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"TTT PRINCETON, N. J. ^~ *■ 

|] 6VfcSY% Division....,.....' ft- ; 

I >S'Af//; Section ^j 

|) Book, 


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O N T H E 

Following Subjects. 


The love of God a rational 
principle, and a moral virtue. 

Of the true happinefs of man. 

The mifchiefs of vanity, and an 
afFefted wifdom. 

The diftinft offices and ufes of 
reafon, and revelation. 

Of blafphemy, and prophane 

Of exemplary and fhining cha- 
rafters of virtue. 

Of flander and defamation. 

Of covetoufnefs, envy, and dif- 

The advantages of confideration. 

The true ground of the argu- 
ment, from reafon, for a future 

Of the Sabbath, and the moral 
ground of public worlhip. 

Virtue an uniform and confiftent 


A general difcourfe on the na- 
ture and ufe of prayer. 

The reafonablenefs of ^hat 
branch of prayer, which is 
lliled interceiTion. 

Of Idolatry, and vifiting the ini- 
quities of the fathers upon 
the children. 

On the Mediation of Chriil. 


Vo L U M E IV. 

L O N B O N : 

Printed for J. Noon, at the White-Hart in Cheapjide, near 
Mereers-Chapd'y and A. Millar, oppofite to ^<7/^<v///^- 
$treet in the Strand. MDCCXLIV, 




S E R M O N I. Page I 

TH E Love of God a rational prin- 
ciple, and a moral Virtue. 

^ Matt. xxii. 37, 38. 

yefus faid unto him, Thou Jhalt love the 
Lord thy God with all thine Heart, and 
with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind, 

This is thefrft and great Commandment, 

S E R M. II. p. 2j 

Of the true Happinefs of Man. 
PsAL. iv. 6. 
There be many that fay. Who willjhew us 
any good ? LORD, lift thou up the light 
of thy Countetiance upon us, 

A 2 S E R M. 


S E R M. III. p. 53 

The mifchiefs of Vanity, and an affeded 

Rom. i. 22. 
ProfcJJing themfelves to be wife, they be^ 
came fools. 

S E R M. IV. p. 75 

The diJilind Offices and Ufes of Reafon, 
and Revelation. 

Prov. XX. 27. 
^he Spirit of Man is the Candle of the 

S E R M. V. p. loi 

Of Blafphemy, and prophane Swearing. 

EXOD. XX. 7. 

7hou (halt not take theName oftheLORD 
thyGod in vain : For theLORDwill not 
hold him guiltlefs, that taketh his name 
in vain. 

S E R M. VI. p. 129 

Of exemplary and fhining Charad:ers of 




Matt. v. i6. 
Let your Light fo fAne before ?ne?i^ that 
they may fee your good Works j and glo- 
rify your Father who is in Heaven^ 

SERM. VII. p. 157 

Of Slander and Defamation. 

EXOD. XX. 16. 

Ihou fialt 7iot bear falfe witnejs agaifift 
thy Neighbour. 

SERM. Vm. p. 179 

Of Covetoufnefs, Envy, and DIfcontent. 

ExoD. XX. 17. 
^hou fialt not covet thy 'Neighbour' ^ Jo § 
Houfe^ thou fialt not covet thy Neigh- fc S^ 
hour's Wife,, nor his Man-fervant, nor 
his Maidfervant^ nor his Ox, 7ior his S,'^ ^ 
Afs, nor any 'Thing that is thy Neighs ^ p^ 

SERM. IX. p. 203 

The true Ground of the argument, from 
reafon, for a future ftate. 

EcCLES. ix. 2. 
-/^//things come alike to all : There is 07ie 
event to the righteous and to the wicked; 




to the good and. to the clean, and to the 
unclean 5 to him that facrificeth^ and to 
him that facrijiceth not ^ As is the good 
* fi is the finner, and he that fweareth^ 
as he that feareth an oath. 

S E R M. X. p. 227 

The Advantages of Confideration. 

Hagg. i. 7. 

nils faith the LORD of Hojls, Confider 
your ways, 

S E R M. XL p. 253 

Of the Sabbath y and the worj/ ground of 
public worfhip. 

ExoD. XX. S, 9, 10, II. 

Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. 

Six days fialt thou labour , and do all 

thy ivork. But the feventh day is the 

. fabbath of the LORD thy God -, in it 

- thou fialt not do any work : ThoUy nor 

thy fin, nor thy daughter, thy man- 

ferva?ity nor thy maidfervant, nor thy 

cattle ', nor the fir anger that is within 

thy gates, — For in fx days the LORD 



made heaven and earth, the fea, and 
all that in them is, and refied the fe.- 
venth day : Wherefore the LORD blejfed 
the fabbath-day, and hallowed it. 

S E R M. XII. p. 285 

Religion a confiftent and uniform cha- 

Matth. vi. 24. 

No man can ferve two majiers : For ei^ 
ther he will hate the one, and love the 
other ; or elfe he will hold to the one, 
and defpife the other, Te cannot ferve 
Gody and Mammon, 

S E R M. XIII. p. 305 

A general Difcourfe on the nature and ufe 
of Prayer. 

Matth. vi. 6. 
But thou, when thou prayefi, enter into 
thy clofet, and when thou hafl fmt thy 
door, pray to thy Father who is in fe^ 
cret J and thy Father, who feeth infe^ 
cret, foall reward thee openly. 

S E R M. XIV. p. 335 

The reafonablenefs of that branch of 
prayer, which is fliled Inter ceflion. 

I Tim, 


I TiM.ii. . I. 

J exhort therefore that, firjl of all^ flip- 
plications, prayers, intercefjions, and 
giving of thanks be made for all men. 
S E R M. XV. p. 359 

Of Idolatry 3 and vifiting the Iniquities of 
the fathers upon the children. 
ExoD. XX. 4, 5, 6. 

T!hou Jl:alt not make unto thee any graven 
image ^ or any likenefs of any thing that 
is in heaven above, or that is in the 
earth beneath, or that is /;z the water 
under the earth : Thou Jl:alt not bow 
down thyfeJf to them, nor ferve them. — • 
For I the LORD thyGod aniajealoiisGod^ 
vifiting the iniquity of the fathers upon 
the children unto the third and fourth 
generation of them that hate me_ -, and 
fiewing mercy u?tto thoufands of thent 
that love me, and keep my command- 

S E R M. XVI. p. 391 

On the mediation of Chrift. 

I Tim. ii, 5, 

y'-"?—-And one mediator between God and 

vicUy the man Chrifi fefus, 

S E R- 


The Love of God a rational prin^ 
ciple ; and a moral virtue. 

Matth. xxii. 37, 38. 

^tiusfaid unto htm^ Thou fhalt 

love the Lord thy God with all 
thine hearty and with all thy 
fouly and with all thy mind. 

This is the Jirjl and great cofnmand- 

T the time of our Saviour's Se RM^ 

appearance the world was I. 

extremely depraved, and 

flood in great need of a 

reformation. The prtn^ 

ciptes, and pra5fice of true religion were 

very much corrupted, and its influence 

Vol. IV, B upoa 

2 ^he Love of God a rational prtJiciple J 

Serm. upon the hearts and lives of men was in 
I. a great meafure loft. Even among the 
y^'ze^jjWho w^ere the peculiar people of God, 
religion feems to have been degenerated 
into outward pomp and formality. Their 
great and leading men, and moft eminent 
and celebrated fe(5ls, afFeded chiefly to be 
mafters of ceremony and devout grimace, 
and wore the garb of religion, in order 
to advance their honour and influence 
among the people ^ and having refolved 
the whole of it into external rites^ and a 
multitude of vain tradhional obfervajices, 
were generally regardlefs of the obligations 
of moral virtue^ and the fubftantial im- 
mutable duties of a holy life. The Scribes, 
and Pharifees, and Doctors of the law 
were, in the main, men of profligate and 
abandoned principles, a fet of deiigning 
hypocrites ; who made ufe of an aukward 
fingitlarity of drefs, a demure mortified 
look, and the artifice of a fpecious devo^ 
tion, to ikreen their tyrannical impofitions 
on confcience, their injuftice, fraud and 
cruelty, from public cenfure. And, there- 
fore, as our bleflTed Saviour, inftead of 
complimenting their va?iity, took very 


and a moral virtue, 3 

great and unufual liberties in reproving S e r m. 
their 'vices ; as he endeavoiir'd to expofe I. 
their abfurd traditions and fubtle pretences ^''^^'^"^*'^- 
to piety, by which they had cheated and 
amufed the ignorant and credulous vulgar; 
and inftead of ceremony and affediatioHy 
which had too long ufurped the venerable 
name of religion, to introduce Jtncere 
and iindejiled religion, confining in purity 
of confcience and a virtuous life — They 
apprehended that their craft was in dan- 
ger, and that if he fhould fucceed in his 
attempts to eftablidi this 7iew reforming 
doctrine, their credit and authority mufl 
fink i upon which account, they had re- 
courfe to the vileil and moft fenfelefs me- 
thods of calumny to blacken his reputa- 
tion, and profecuted his ruin with inde- 
fatigable zeal and malice. But becaufe 
they could find nothing worthy of pub- 
lic difgrace, or death, in his regular un- 
blemiflied charadler -, and if they fliould 
lay violent hands on him, it might then 
have rendered them obnoxious to the re- 
fentment of the people (many of whom 
had fome kind of reverence of him, on 
account of the force and excellency of his 
B 2 do(5trine. 

^ Hoe Love of God a rational principles 

Se R M. docftrine, and the mighty works which he 

I. performed, generally of beneficence and 

^^^ friendpnp to mankind) they endeavoured 

to cnfnare him by captious queftions, that 

they might find fome matter of plaujibh 

accufation againfl him, and take away his 

hfe under the colour of law and juftice. 

Of this v/e have feveral inllances in 

tlie chapter of my text. Their firft 

Ihatagem was to inquire of him about 
the hiwfidnefs of paying tribute to Ccefar^. 
expedling, perhaps, that he would have 
laid fomething in prejudice of Ca/ars au- 
thority, and injurious to hh imperial dig- 
nity ; and thereby have expofed himfelf 
to the cognifance of the Roma?r govern- 
ment, as a fomentor of fedition. The re- 
ply he gave to th?s, which could neither 
alarm the jealoufy of the RomanSy nor in- 
cenfe his ovv'n countn-men asfainft him for 
publickly defending their unjulT: iijurpa- 
tio7i, is an undeniable proof of his con- 
fummate wiidom in a thorough knowledge 
of Human nature, and faiting his difcourfe 

to fi'ofous and circumjlanccs, After this- 

eame thcxSW<///<rcv.v,and put to him, as they 
thought, a ///tv and aV/Zcf?/ qi:cflion con^ 


mid a moral virtue. 5 

•cerning the refurredlon ; but were an-SERM. 
fwered, with great ilrengtb and fuperiori- I- 
ty of judgment, even from the writings 
of Mofes, the divine authority of which 
themfelves acknowledged, to their own 
•entire confujion, and the great fiirprife of 

the multitude. Being difappointed in 

.this fcheme likewife, we read next of a 
certain Lawyer^ or a teacher and expound- 
er of the law of Mofes^ who aflced him 
-a que/iion, tempting him ^ and faying^ Maj~ 
ter, which is the great conunandmcnt in the 
law f To this our Saviour replies in the 
text: And his words contain notions of 
religion fo fuhlimc and rational^ fo full 
and comprehenfive^ and aflert, with iuch 
clearnefs and ilrength, the neceflary fuh- 
crdination of politive and ritual, to irre- 
verfible moral ordinances, that their being 
recorded muft be to the eternal honour of 
Chriftianity. 'J'^fus I aid unto him^ Thou 
J}:alt iove the Lord thy God "with all thine 
hearty and with all thy foitly and with all 
thy mind : This is the fir ft and great com- 
mandment. And the Jecond is like unto it^ 
Thou fialt love thy neighbour as thy felfi 
On thefe two commandments hang all the 
B 3 law 

6 The Love of God a ratmtal principle ; 

S E R M. law and the prophets. The Love of God and 
I- of our Neidibour are the two grand and 

^^^ fundamental principles of religion ; frorn 
whence all the duties of it fiow^ and in- 
to which, as their general fources, they 
may be all refclved. ThQ frji: of thefe 
I intend to make the fubjcd of my pre- 
fent difcourfe, which I (hall purfue in the 
following method. 

First, I (hall confider the nature of 
the duty enjoined in the text. 

Secondly, inquire into the reafom 
of it. 

Thirdly, (hew briefly why it is filled 
the fir ft and great commandment^ 
And then endeavour to prove. 

In the fourth place, that the Fear 
and the Love of God are perfedly 
confiftent, and may be both culti- 
vated in fuch a manner as not to de^ ~ 
firo)\ or in the leaft weaken^ each 

First, I am to confider the nature oi 
the duty here recommended. The Love 
of God, as it is a principle or aiFedion 


and a moral virtue, 7 

in the mind, is a proper ^f^»2 of him on Serm. 
account of his natural and relative excel- I. 
lencies, accompanied with a fuitable de- ^'^'"^'''"^^ 
light and complacency in him. The Objed: 
of Love muft neceflarily be lomevv^hat 
beautiful^ good, and defirable: For there is 
a natural averfion in the mind of man to 
evil and deformity. And tho' mens un- 
derftandings may be fometimes fo darken- 
ed, and their judgment of things fo per- 
verted by irregular lufts and corrupt pre- 
judices, as to miftake deformity for beauty ; 
and tho* under the influence of fuch a 
wrong biafs, they may really purfue con- 
fufion and mifery under the notion of order 
and happinejs ; yet it is abfolutely impof- 
fible that they (hould love and chufe the 
evil, or hate and refufe i\\t good, when 
the mind difcerns them in ihtn proper cha^ 
raBers. The foundation of Love, there- 
fore, mu ft be excellence ?T^/, ox fuppofed : 
And this I have diftinguiflbed into 'natural 
and relative, meaning by natural the in- 
trinjic goodnefi and beauty of the objed:, 
and by relative its ufc and agrceablenefi to 
us. So that vve love the Deity as an abfo- 
lutely perfe6t Spirit, and the moft amiable 
B 4 of 

8 l^e Love of God a rational principle ; 

$ERM. of all Beings in himfelf^ and as comntiuni- 
I. eating good to us *, and the only fource of 
^>fy^ full and complete happinefs. But then our 
Love of God is of a much more refined 
kind than the love of external and vifible 
objedts : '' For with refped: to the latter, 
it is, in a great meafure, accompanied 
with animal affeBlom and infiinBs^ and 
muft therefore be more firong and fen- 
fibk, becaufe all the impreflions, which 
fuch objed:s make upon us, are con- 
veyed by the fenjes. Whereas the 
Love of God, who is an invifible Spi- 
rit, will not be attended with fuch rap- 
ture and emotion (which is only the 
Mecha?iifm,oi the animal part) but is 
pure and intellectual. Tiie iinderjland' 
ing approves of and efleems him as the 
higheft excellence, and the chiefeft 
good; upon which we are determined 
to place our ultimate delight and fa- 

* /. e. To us men, to all mankind inJifcriminately* 
/and upon the fame general foundation of reafon, in the 
fame equitable and fit proportions, to the ivhole fyjlem 
of rational being?) not to any iudividiiah arbitra- 
rily and wantonly diilinguilhed ; which conllruflion would 
be quite inconfiitent with what the author has aflerted in 
Dthsr parts of this difcourfe. 

■' tisfa^ipa 

aiid a ?noral virtue. g 

** tisfadion in him." And for this realon, S erm. 
njtz, becaufe the Love of God " is not !• 
*' properly a pajjion^ '* as is the afFedtion 
we bear to fenlible objedls, I chufe to 
call it an EJieem of him upon the account 
of his excellencies. 

Now in order to raife this Jublijne and 
noble principle in our minds, it is in the 
nature of the thing neceffary not only 
that there be fome general knowledge of 
God, but that we entertain in the main 
jufi apprehenfions of his infinite perfedtions. 
We mufl be convinced of his worth and 
excellence^ before we can, in a rational and 
regular way, make him the objecft of our 
ejleem\ which will be rightly exercifed,or 
the contrary, as our knowledge is more or 
lefs exaB, and increafe in proportion to 
the degrees of it. But then the knowledge 
of God, which influences to the fincere 
Love of him, muft not be an abftra^ed no- 
tion^ but a warm and w^ijro^j principle ; 
or, in other words, our Love of God is 
not founded on the mere apprehenfion of 
his excellencies, but upon a ftrong and 
lively jenfe of them in the mind. For 
piany are f;ar advanced in xho. fpeculative 


I o The Love of God a rational principle ; 

Serm- knowledge of the Deity, and yet inflead 
^* of being diredted, by a principle pf Love 
towards him, to an imitation of his per- 
fedions and the pracflice of virtue, oppofe 
his authority, and cherifli fuch dark and 
inifchievoiis difpofitions, as are diredly re- 
pugnant to his moll amiable and fpotlefs 
nature ; becaufe they will not take due 
care to cultivate, and imprefs, the right 
idea of him, as a Being fupremely excel- 
lent, and their only happinefs, and of the 
immenfe obligations they are under to him, 
for the numberlefs in fiances of his favour 
and goodnefs. But when we are once 
ellabliflied in jiiji and worthy conceptions 
of our Maker, and our knowledge of him 
is, by proper meditation and fpiritual ex- 
erciles, improved to an habitual lively Jenfe 
of his confummate and incomparable beau- 
ties, the mind will naturally adhere to him 
as the worthiefl objedt of its love ; and from 
a flrong convidion of his abfolute per- 
fedlion, prefer him to all other beings, and 
center its fupreme complacency in him. 
This is a general view of the methods, by 
which that fublime moral virtue, which is 
declared by our Lord in the text to be the 

and a moral virtue* 1 1 

Jlrjl and mod neceflary duty of religion, Serm, 
is planted in the mind j by which alfo it !• 
is confirm d and ejiablifh'd^ and carried on 
to the moft exalted pitch of purity and 

It is of the utmoft importance to ob- 
ferve further, that the Love of God is not 
a clofe filent affedlion in the foul, but an 
cBive principle. *' It does not confifl in 
** inward raptures^ in a mechanical heat 
" and agitation of the paffions, and a re- 
" tired contemplation of the beauty of its 
*' objedl ; but difcovers itfdf in ijifibk 

** fruits of benevolence." This is the 

Love of God, fays St. John, that we keep i john v% 
bis commandments : And his commaiidments'^' 
are not grievous. And again ■ Whofo , john a 
keepeth his word, in him, verily, is the Love 5- 
of God perfeBed. In this therefore, as the 
fame Apoftle fpeaks, the children of God i John iii. 
are manifefi, and the children of the Devil: 
Whofoever doth not right eon fnefs is not of 
God. So that to render our account of 
this moft excellent and refined virtue com- 
plete, we muft upon the whole define it 

thus • " That it is fuch an eflecfn of 

f* the Deity, accompanied with a flrong 
a " delight 

1 2 TheLoveofGod a rational principle ; 

6erm« *' delight in him, as produces inus^ con- 
I. ** formity to his moral perfe<ftions, and 

^^^^^^""^ " an exaB ohfervance of his precepts". 
Having explained thus largely the nature 
of the Love of God : I proceed 

Secondly, to inquire into the reafom 
of it. The mind of man (as has been 
already obferved ) and the fame may be 
faid with refpedt to all rational beings ; the 
mind of man^ I fay, is fo framed, that 
beauty and excellence are naturally the ob- 
jeds of his afFedion. They attract, in a 
manner, irreftjlibly^ when difcern'd in a 
proper and advantageous light ; and no- 
thing but ignorance, inconfideration, or 
an extremely corrupt and diforderly ha^ 
bit, can prevent their producing this ef- 
fed. " And if excellence in any Being 
*' be a juft foundation of our efleem, it 
*' neceflarily follows, that the efteem 
• *' ought to increafe in proportion to the 
'^" degrees of it : So that as a lower rank 
." of pcrfedion demands an inferior re^ 
" gard, ahfolute, or the highe/i pojjlble^ 
*' perfedion muft be intided to oxxt fu- 
*' preme and ultimate regard!^ 


and a moral virtue. 1 3 

When we raife our thoughts up toSERM* 
the Moft High, and ferioufly contemplate !• 
the glories of his charader, our minds are 
ravished with the view of fuch confummate 
and houndlefs excellence. There are no 
Jloades or fpots in his nature, but all is 
abfolute and unclouded light. There is 
not the leaft defeSf, as there muft be in 
the bigbejl of derived beings ; but we be- 
hold an inexhaujlible fund of perfedion 
to engage our admiration, and are loft in 
the immenlity of the objedt. Our Love 
therefore, if it be regularly exercifed to- 
ward fuch a Being as this, muft be elevated 
to the higheft pitch of life and energy : It 
requires the utmoft purity 2S\^jlrength of 
our faculties, lince it is converfant about 
fuch a tranj'cetidently aminhle Objed:, whofe 
beauties exceed all our ideas, and the moft 
lavifti and magnificent defcription. All 
the feveral glories of the creation, and the 
varieties of excellence which are difperfed 
among the beings that inhabit it, are de- 
rived from him \ and are indeed but the 
p.'adoiv of that boundlefs perfed:ion which 
himfelf pollcllcs ; and would, if colledcd 
together into o?ie fum^ be infinitely infe- 
r X rlqr 

I ^ Tie Love of God a rational principle ; 

Serm. rior to k. And what is the pradtical re- 
!• fult of this, but that as God is fuprejnely 

^^v^^ excellent, and the great Origi?ial 2.v\d Foim^ 
tain of all the fcattered beauties that ap- 
pear in the univerfe, he muft be worthy 
of our chief and moll devoted affedion ? 
A cold and indifferent regard is very un- 
fuitable to the merit of fuch an infinite, 
all-fufficient Good ; and the allowing any- 
other a co-ordinate fhare in our efteem the 
greateft affront, that can be offered, to the 
unrivalled fovereignty of his perfedions. 

But. it may be ufeful to inquire more 
particularly— " What kind oi excellencies 
*^ they are in the Divine mind, which in- 
" title him thus to our fupreme Love." As 
he is abfolute, he mufl be moft highly 
adorable in all his perfed:ions i but Lovely 
only in his /^wW character. For no man 
loves the bare felf-exiflence and eternity of 
God J in like manner we cannot be faid to 
love infinite power : There is fomething 
awful and majeflic in thefe characters, they 
command a more folemn and diflant re- 
gard, and ftrike rather with furprife and 
a/lonifiment. And even wifdom itfelf, tho* 
it be allowed to be an excellent quality, is 


and a moral virtue* 15 

not, abftradly confider'd, the foundation Serm. 
of Love ; becaufe it is no farther valuable, I. 
than as it ferves the purpofes of juftice and ^^^^ 
goodnefs : Which appears plainly from this 
fingle confideration, that if it be perverted 
to the contriving and fupporting of op- 
preffive and mifchievous fchemes, it be- 
comes immediately, in all rational minds, 
the objed: of contempt and averfion. So 
that it is the infinite goodnefs^ or the per^ 
feSlion of God in his moral character, 
which alone renders him fo juftly and 
tranfcendently amiable : Or, in other 
words, we are oblio;ed to love him above 
all, and in the moft perfe(5t manner, be- 
caufe he is a Being abfolutely righteous, 
benevolent and merciful j and the reflexion 
upon his neceffary Exiftence, Omnipo- 
tence, and infinite Knowledge, comes in 
no otherwife than thus — " That the ex- 
*' cellent and ufeful moral charadlersabove- 
*' mentioned, are unchangeably eflential to 
** him } that he imploys his boundlefs 
** wifdom in propofmg, and his irrefiftible 
*^ power in doing good." His infinite be- 
nevolence always inclining him to admi- 
nifter impartial juftice, and diffufe happi- 


1 6 *TheLove of God a rational principle ; 
Serm. nefs through the creation, is the true and 
^^•^ proper realbn why we love him ; and his 
natural attributes are only fo far lovely^ as 
they are fubfervient to his good nefs, and 
enable him more efFedually to execute what 
that fuggefts and prompts him to. 

Nay, I may proceed another ilep, and 
add to what has been already faid, "That 
*' even particular inftances of favour and 
" beneficence in the Deity, are not the 
" rational foundation of the Love we owe 
** him, but the goodnefs of his nature only'* 
We are taught indeed, by inftin(5t, ftrongly 
to affedl our felves ; but notwithftanding 
this, in the reafon of things, particular 
benefits conferr'd on us ought not to be 
the abjolute meafiire of our love to any 
being, becaufe it is poflible that they may 
not proceed from a benevolent temper, or a 
real defire of our happinefs, but from bafe 
and unworthy principles : And when this 
is the cafe, he that is the inflrument of 
good to us ( tho' we mull:, doubtlefs, be 
pleas d with the event ) cannot juftly be 
the object of our ejlcem. Again, if a be- 
ing fliould arbitrarily choofe us for his 
favorites, and at the fame time, without 


ti?jd a moral virtue, 1 7 

atiy provocation^ delight in tormenting the Serm. 
refi of our fellow-creatures, and in making I. 
them miferable j could we, as indued with ^v^^. 
intelligent powers, and capable of diftin- 
guKhing the morality of adlions, love one 
who was fo capricious and tyrannical in 
difpenfing good and evil ? Or rather, at 
the fame time that we felt the kindly in- 
fluences of his favor, fhould we not be 
filled with an inward detefiation of the 
partial and mifchievous difpofition, by 
which he was adted ? It feems to me, 
that this muft be the firfi unpei'verted 
fenfe of a good-natur'd and generous mind. 
But when it contemplates the Father of 
the univerfe in the exertions, and final 
fcope^ of his benevolence, a quite different 
fcene prefents itfelf, a fcene of delight and 
rapture: For his goodnefs, which is un- 
bounded in the principle, and univerfal 
and infinite in its effeBs, affords the no- 
blefl: idea of perfeBion we can poffibly 
form ; and where there is not either a 
great want of refieSlion, or an uncommon 
degeneracy, mull infpire the moft exalted 
fentiments of veneration, love and grati- 
tude. I fhall conclude this head with ob- 
VoL. IV". C ferving 

1 8 The Love of God a rational principle ; 

Serm. ferving, that as God is k'-cely only in his 
I. moral character, and not on account ef 

^^^^^"^ his eternity, power, knowlege, or other 
natural properties, we may from hence 
coUedt a fure rule^ by which to lvalue our 
felves 5 and that is, not to frame an opi- 
nion of merit from endowments of a na- 
tural or accidental kind, but to tix the 
reafon of our felf-ejhem in, and propor- 
tion it to, the degrees of our real and 
intrinfic goodnefs. I am now to confider 

In the third place, why our Saviour 
fliles the precept contained in the text 

the fir j}^ and great ^ commandment'^ It 

is the f,rjl principle of all religion ; the 
very notion of which is founded on the 
Love of God, and a ferious regard to his 
authority. It is the chief duty of re- 
ligion ; becaufe our obligations to it are of 
a higher and Wronger nature, than to any 
other duty : It ought therefore above all 
things to be flridily and confcientioufly 

obferved. ^It is the root 2.wA fountain 

of all other virtues, efpecially of the focial 
virtues ; of all offices of juftice, huma- 

and a moral virtue, 1 9 

nity and benevolence ; v/hich are infepa- S erm. 
rably conneBed with it, and never fail to I- 
be produced by it, v^rhen it is a genuine ^'^^^^^ 

and vigorous affection. And finally, 

as ^,mo?'al virtue, it is infinitely preferable, 
not only to the wild freaks of a fanciful 
fu perdition, but even to rites and ceremo- 
nies of divine appointment. That this 
was the thing more immediately in our 
Lord's intention, feems probable from 
St. Alark's account of the matter, from 
whence it is plain that the lawyer appre- 
hended him thus, and therefore return'd 
the following anfwer : Welly Mafter, thou 
haft faid the truth j for there is one Gody 
and there is none other but he. And to 
love him with all the hearty and with all 
the under flandiiigy and with all the foul, Mark xifj 
and with all the ftrejjgth^ and to love his 
neighbour as himjelf, is more than all whole 
burnt -offerings and facrifices. 

The last thing that I propofed to 
Hiew was, that the Fear and the Love 
cf God are perfe(5lly conjiftent^ and may 
both be cultivated in fuch a manner, as 
not to deftroy^ or in the lea ft weaken each 
C 2 other. 

2 o TheLove of God a rational principle ; 

Serm. other. The Fear of God is not, what 
I. many fuppofe it to be, 2.Jlaviflf principle^ 

^^"^"^^^ but a filial reverence i not the dread of 
a tyrant^ but the veneration and humble 
regard that ought to be paid to a compaf- 
iionate Father, to a wife and gracious So- 
vereign : Which at the fame time, that 
it reprefents him as ter?'ible in his ven- 
geance, when the iniquities of his crea- 
tures demand and force the execution of 
it, reprefents him Hkewife as the moil 
amiable and delightful objed; of our con- 
templation. If therefore we conceive of 
him as an arbitrary Being, who adts 
without regard to the reafon of things, as 
a pettifi Being, eafy to be affronted, hut 
flow in forgiving, as fevere and rigorous 
in his demands, revengeful and inexorable^ 
ready to take all advantages againft man- 
kind, and delighting in their mijery ; or 
condder only his abfolute dominion and 
power, but do not take into our idea, that 
this dominion and power are never exer^ 
cisdy but by the direction of -infinite Wif- 
dom, Juflice, and Goodnefsj and when 
we have entertained fuch a formidable 
notion of him, cannot think of him with- 

and a moral virtue. 2 1 

.out confafion and anxiety : '' ThlsSERM. 

'** is not to fear God as reafon and reli- I. 
** gion did:ate, but really to difionour ^^'^^^"^ 
" him. It is forming a charad:er which 
** exifts fio wherey but in our dijiempered 
" imaginations j" and a character that is as 
difparaging to the glorious perfedtions of 
the Deity, as it is fatal to our own peace 
and comfort. For the religious Fear of 
God is nothing elfe, but the reverence due 
to a Being fupremely and immutably per- 
fect. If therefore we are afraid of him 
as a T^^Tw defpotic Sovereign, we are mif- 
taken in the very ground of our Fear : 
For he is a righteous and moft merciful 
Governor. And if we confider his irre- 
£ftible power only, and 2iXt frighted at 
the thought of it, as .what is capable of 
making the whole creation completely mi- 
ferable, our Fears are equally unreafon- 
able ; becaufe " there is nojhch Being in 
** the univerfe, as one pofTefs'd of an un- 
** bounded power, that is not under the 
** conduB of unerring Wifdom, and mofl 
*' perfedtGoodnefs." So that It appears, that 
the great God is the juft objed: of our reve- 
rence^ and yet infinitely amiable ; or, in 
C 3 Qthe;;- 

2 2 TheLove of God a rational principle ; 

S ERM. other words, that the Love and the Fear of 
I. God are infeparably conneBedy and that 
they fpring, indeed, fvomthe fame general 

And it is for want of confidering the 
matter in this view, that men have been 
fo apt to run into one, or other, of thefe 
two extremes, equally mifchievous to the 
caufe of virtue and true religion : Either 
conceiving of the Deity as all goodnefs^ 
without taking at all into their idea his. 
infinite wifdom, by which the exercife of 
his goodnels is always directed and regu- 
lated J or elfe, entirely dropping his good- 
iiefs, and thinking on him only as a Being 
chjolute in power, and rigid in juftice. 
Whereas the only way, in which we can 
have a right and worthy notion of him, 
is to confider all his perfedions as in a ne- 
ceflary union ^.wdiharmony with each other, 
Otherwife we may lo've him, or rather, 
iince fuch a weak character cannot be the 
objedt of a rational ejleem and complacency, 
we may take a pleafurc in reprefenting 
him to our minds as an eafy Being, who 
has no refentment of the violation of his 
laws and contempt of his authority, and 


and a 7?ioral vu^tue. 23 

from whom we apprehend no evil, how- Serm. 
ever irregular our behaviour may be ;— ■ !• 

but we cannot reverence him : Or elfe, ^^'^ 

he will be fo terrible to our imaginations, 
that we (hall always be diftraSied, and 
filled with averjion and horror, at the 

thought of him; And if this be the 

cafe, it is in the nature of things impof- 
(ible we (hould love him. 



Of the true Happinefs of Man. 

Psalm iv. 6. 

There be 7nany that fay^ who will 
Jbew us 'SSiy good? — Lord, lift 
thou up the light of thy Qounte* 
nance upon us* 

HE all-wife God hath jii-Serm. 
terwoven a defire oi Hap- II. 
pinefs, and an ayerfion to t>'VN^ 
Pain and Mifery, with the 
very conftitution of Human 
nature. This is a principle implanted in 
the animal creation, as well as in man- 
kind : But there is this difference between 
m and them j that whereas they are de- 

26 Of the true Happinefs of Man, 

Serm. termined to the purfuit of Happinefs by a 
II. blind impulfe^ we have reajon and under- 
'Jianding to deliberate about what is beft 
for us, and a power of profecuting what- 
ever appears to be fo after clofe and fe- 
rious thinking, and impartial weighing the 
nature of things. And, furely, we muft 
be very befotted and extravagant creatures, 
if we haftily, and without due enquiry, 
take up with any thing for our fupreme 
good^ when the Happinefs of our being to 
eternity depends upon the determination 
which we noiv make ; and if we are not 
certain, before we venture upon any par- 
ticular courfe of adion, that it will end 
well, and be, upon the whole, to our ad- 
vantage. Pilate's addrefs to our blelTed 
Saviour was about a matter of vaft im- 
portance, when he afk'd him, what is 
^ruth ? But this feems to be queftion of 

ftill greater confequence What isHap- 

pincfs f Becaufe the juft folution of it, 

at the fame time that it delivers the mind 
from a troublefome and dangerous uncer- 
tainty, will lead it to the knowlege of 
the moft eflential branches of moral truth, 
and enable it rightly to underftand the 


Of the true Happinefs of Man, 27 

general principles of virtue and religion. Serm. 
I fhall, therefore, in the following dif- H. 

In the first place, lay down fome 
I'ukSj to diredl us in our inquiries af- 
ter Happinefs. 

Secondly, confider the reafon fug- 
gefted in the text, why fo great a 
part of the world, tho' they are 
prompted by an ardent and inextin- 
guifhible inftin(fl in nature to piirfue 
Kapphiefs, mifs of their end F And 
then (hew. 

Thirdly, That the favor of God, 
and his approbation of them as their 
Governor and Judge, is abfolutely 
neceffary to the Happinefs of Man- 
kindy and of all intelligent Beings. 

First, I am to lay down fome r/^Zfi^ 
to diredl us in our inquiries after Happi-. 
nefs. This is a matter of the firft and 
utmoft importance j becaufe if we have 
no Jure principles to proceed upon to lead 
us to the point in view, and enable us to 
diflinguifii real and Jubftantial Happinefs 


2 8 Of the true Happinefs of Man. 

SpRM. from fpecious and delufive appearances^ 
II' onv judgment muft of neceflity be confuf- 

^^^^^ ed, and our choice wild and indifgrimi? 
nate : And the fixing the foundation 
wrongs is the caufe of the moft deplora- 
ble errors and miferies of Human life. \ 
would therefore recommend the following 
rules as abfolutely, and univerfally, ne- 
ceffary to be ftridtly obferved, and con- 

flantly adher'd to -That we aim at a 

Happinefs which is agreeable to our nature ^ 
to our whole nature j but efpecially to our 
dijiingiiifhed and more exalted faculties. — 
That our profpcifls and expedations h^jufl 
and reafoiiable, fuch as we may honourc^bly 
entertain, and probably execute ; and find 
to yield, not an imaginary, but a Jblid fa- 
tigfadion.— — That the Happi?iefs we ul- 
timately propofe, be that which is fuited 
to every fituation we may be placed in, every 
charaBer we may fuftain, and to the va- 
rious unavoidable changes and vicij/itudes 

of life : That which is moft certainly 

attainable, and moft eafilyT^^wr^^/; which 
is, in its own nature, moft permanent and 
durable, and guarded aginft external acci- 
dents:- That which may be purfued 

2 anc^ 

Of the true Happinefs of Mah, eg 

and enjoyed without jhame or anxiety ^Serm, 
without fufpicion of wrong condu6l, or H. 
fear of future ill confequences : — Which 
will ftand the teft of deliberate refieBioUy 
and improve upon longer experience^ that 
will fupport a calm and fteady ferenity^ 
and moft effedually deliver us from turbu- 
lent and difquieting pajjions. And there 
are two things more to be added, to make 
our direBion and rule of judgment com- 
plete : The one is, that the Happinefs we 
aim at be uniform^ and not inconfifient 

with itfelf The other, that it refped: 

the 'whole of our exiftence. I beg leave^ 
in as brief a manner as the importance of 
the fubjed: will admit, to explain and 
illuftrate each of thefe rules. 

And first, the Happinefs^ which 
we aim at, muft be agreeable to our na^ 
turey to our whole nature j but efpecially 
to our dijlifiguifjjed and more exalted facul- 
ties. " Our own original frame, and the 
" conflitution and order of nature, are 
" iht Jlandard from which we ought ne- 
" ver to depart, in judging not only of 
", truth and virtue ^ but of Happinefs^ For 
if the Happinefs we defign for ourfelves, 


30 Of the true Happinefs of Man, 

Serm. be above nature, it muft be entirely fan-' 
II. tajlic and 'vifionary ; and we may as well 

^^^""t"^^ ^jj^ ^|. being Angehy and raifing ourfelves, 
altogethe7', above the fixed rank of being, 
in which the Almighty Creator has placed 
us : Since we cannot enjoy the Happinefs 
of fuperior intelligences, unlefs we are 

pofTefs'd of their capacities If, on the 

other hand, it be below nature, v/e muH: 
not only debafe our conceptions and dif- 
honour our dignity, but lofe juft fo many 
pleafures for which we were formed, and 
thofe the moft fublime and refined of all 

our pleafures. Again, if it be contrary 

to nature, it muft be a falfe fophifticated 
Happinefs, liable to infinite cafualties and 
interruptions j and can laft no longer than 
the falfe appetite, and the perverfion of 

nature continues. And if it be adapted 

only to one part of our frame, let that 
part be fuppofed equal to the other, we 
are ftill but half happy ; and cannot have 
a regular and full enjoyment of ourfelves, 
while we are liable to the inward fenfe 
of fuch a defeB in our pleafures, and to 
feel the uneafy burden of other faculties 


Of the true Happinefs of Man» 3 1 

for which we have provided no proper Serm," 
employment, of other defires unfatisfied. 11. 

To find oat, therefore, what is the ^-'^VNJ 
true nature, what the mo^ fubjiantial ^zxt^ 
what the perfeBion of Human Happinefs, 
there needs another inquiry, and that is, 
** What fort of a being is man ? " Why, 
we know, that he has ftrong animal paf- 
fioiis ; from whence this confequence di- 
redly refuhs, that he was *' defigned, 
" within certain bounds^ for the enjoyment 
** o^ fenfitive pleafures." We know, that 
he has reafon ; and muft, therefore, have 
been " framed for intclleBual pleafures." 
We know, like wife, that he is ca- 
pable of deliberation^ has a fenfe of the 
beauty and reBitiide of adions, and a 
power to regulate his own conduct ; and 
was, therefore, " intended for moral plca« 

*' fures:" And that he is a depende?2t 

being, a member of a ccmjnwiit\\ vvhofe 
wants are general and their iiiterefts infe-^ 
parahky and that lie has native generoJit\\ 
benevolence^ and public affeBions ; and was, 
therefore, " constituted for jbcial plea- 
" furcs." Now to cojnplete the Happinefs, 
which infini.e wifdom ordained for mau 


3 2 Of the true Happlnefs of Man. 

Serm. in the prefent life, " ^z// thefe feveral kinds 
n. ** of pleafures mufl be allowed to have 
^■^^^ " their proper place, and to furnifli out 
" their juft proportion.'* Even the Z;;/^- 
rior are only to be direded and moderated, 
and kept in their due ftate of fubordina- 
tion, but not to be abfolutely rejected as 
unworthy our regard : For, while we are 
compounded of body and fpirit, to endea- . 
vour to be quite ahjlra5ied from fenfe, and 
wholly given up to fpiritual contemplations 
and exercifes, " cannot be religion ; it 
" cannot be a true purfuit of Happi?iefs 5 
" but is enthufiafiic rigor, an injury to 
" ourfelves, and a violence offered to na- 
" turey And to preferve that beautiful 
harmony which the Creator has appointed, 
a love of retirement, of meditation and 
converfing with ourfelves, ought not to 
beget a rejer'uednefs and aujierity of difpo- 
fitions and manners ; nor an intenfenefs 
even in aifls of devotion to feclude us from 
fociety, and render us infignificant and 
ufelefs to the world, while we are in it. 
And with refpedt to anitnal pleafures 
this is the rule, " that they be always 
" conffient with tl^ofe of reafon, piety, 

" juftice. 

Of the true Happinefs of Man, 33 

** juftice, fidelity, and mercy; then wUISerm. 
" the hallance be kept even, and the end il- 
" of our creation anfwered." The plea- 
fares arifing from rational religion, and a 
ftrid: and generous exerclfe of the fecial 
virtues, can never be irregular ^ nor inter- 
fere with any of the innocent and defira- 
ble delights of fenfe ; they only regulate^ 
without defirofing them : So that while 
thefe have the fiiperiorit)\ the natural prO' 
priety and order of things is fully main- 
tained. Add to this, that the proper Hap- 
pinefs of a man muft be denominated from 
his nobler part : " His fevfitive gratifica- 
" tions muft therefore be reafonable^ or 
" they are unnatural;'' unfuitable to his 
charader, and a difgrace to it. They are 
in themfelves the imperfecftion of his pre- 
fent frame, and an argument of its low 
and diminutive ftate: And if there be 
any nobler and more perfe(5l exiftence 
defigned for him, what the Scripture fays 
with refpedl to this higher Jlation^ which 
it elegantly ftiles the kingdom of God, is 
exceedingly probable on the foot of mere 
natural reafon, ^uiz. that feJJD and bleed 
are too grofs to enter into it. So that 
Vol. IV. , D whoever 

34 Of the true Happinefs of Man. 

Serm. whoever fufFers fenfe to have the afcen- 
n. dent, and fupreme influence, is infenfible 

^^"^'^'^^ of the honour of his nature, and fond of 
that vv^hich humbles and degrades it ; and 
muft either have no notion of any Happi- 
nefs beyond v\^hat irrational creatures are 
capable of, or is dejirous of none that is 
more excellent. 

The second rule, to diredl us in our 
enquiries after Happinefs, is, to take care 
that our profpe6ts and expeftations hejujl 
and reafonabk. This in general^ though it 
be but a melancholy, is a too juft account 
of Human life: ** Wc forget the pafi, are 
" difcontented with the prefent, and in- 
" dulge prefumption znd fancy about what 
** \% future^' inventing fchemes of Hap- 
pinefs which we are never likely to efFedt, 
and which it is, fometimes, fcarce pojible 
to execute ; and, by this means, we make 
life a perpetual fcene of 'vexation and dif- 
appointment. And thus it will always be, 
if we either exped: more from the world 
than it can yield us, or amufe our felves 
with imin hopes, that are above our rank 
and condition in it. If a man, in eafy agree- 
able circumftanccs, cannot be contented 


Of the true Happinefs of Man. 3 5 

becaufe he is not polTeffed of an affluence S e R M. 
of riches ; if another, who is refpeded ^^' 
and honoured: in his ftation, is fond of ^^'^*'^' 
preheminence and ^ more confptcuous dig- 
nity ; if a third wants to be furnifli'd with 
all the trifling unnecejfaries of luxurious ex- 
travagance 1 can fee no ivay^ notwith- 

ftanding the vaft munificence of the Maker 
of the world, how they can efcape being 
mijerabk. In order to be happy, therefore, 
conflder the world as it is^ and make the 
beji of it within the bounds of innocence, 
-— Let contentment and refignation to 
providence Jupply the imperfeBion of mor- 
tal pleafures. Confine your felves, as 

much as poflible, \^nthin the compafs of 

natural \v2ii\\.s and inclinations Take 

care of a rejilefs define oifuperfitiities*"-'-^ 
Let your Happinefs be inward ■ Ex- 
pert not too much from the moft applauded 
and envied enjoyments ; difcard childifli 
hopes and fears, nor entertain fchemes 

againft reafon and probability Refolve 

to go through life with integrity and ho- 
nour, not dijlurbed with needlefs terrors ; 
but yet arming your minds againft any 
changes that may happen, where the fcene 
D 2 is 

36 Of the true Happinefs of MaH4 

Serm. is fo frequently and fo unexped:edly ftiift- 

II. ed. 
^^^^^^^"^^ Thirdly, That alone can be confi- 
dered as the chief and ultimate Happinefs 
of man, which is fuited to every fituation 
and chara(5ler, and to the various unavoid- 
able vicijjltiidei of Human life. And the 
only thing, that can boaft of thefe excel- 
lent properties, is religion • For when 
ftript of tyrannical rigors, and the frightful 
drefs oi fuperfiition, it is fo far from being 
ioofokmn and rejerved for the fprightlinefs 
and gaiety of youth, that it renders it 
amiable ; and is the only fafe and honour- 
able guide through that ftage of levity and 
danger. It approves itfelf likewife to the 
fedate reflection, and mature judgment, 
of our riper years ; and renders old age 
more venerable, and fubmiflively patient 
under its infirmities. And, to conclude 
this head, it raifes the dignity of the great 
and honourable, and renders their rank 
and character more illujlrious ; and is the 
only thing that can corred the infolence^ 
and give a true relifh of the pleafures, of 
vior\d\y profperity, and naturally tends to 
infpire refolution, and a fteddy confidence 


Of the true Happinefs of Man, 37 

of mind, under adverfe and unfortunate Ser m. 

occurrences. ^^• 

The two next rules are thefe — That 
is our trueft Happinefs which is mod cer- 
tainly attainable^ and moft coSiXy fe cured ^ 
which, in its own nature, is moft perma- 
nent and durable, and guarded againft ex- 
ternal accidents And that which may 

be purfued, and enjoyed, without fia7?ie 
^nd anxiety, without fufpicion of wrong 
condu6t, ox fear of future ill confequences, 
which will ftand the teft of deliberate rc^ 
jieBion^ and improve upon longer expe-> 
rience ; that will fupport a calm and fteddy 
ferenity, and moft effectually deliver us 
from turbulent and difquieting pajjiom^ 
Thefe rules are fo clofely conneded, that 
they may juftly be confidered together, 
and fo clear in themfelves, and eafy to be 
applied, that they fcarce want a particular 
illuftration. It will be fufficient therefore 
to obferve, that the defcription here given 
of Happinefs can neither belong to licen- 
tious pleafures^ nor to the gratifications of 
ambitiony nor to amufements of vanity^ 
which depend either on the vigor of the 
fenfes^ or on fancy, cuftom, humour, 
P 3 .thing* 

3 8 Of the true Happimfs of Man. 

S E R M. things infinitely 'various and always change' 
II. ing'j which are impaired by diftemper, 

^^^^^^ render'd injipid by age, interrupted by fud- 
den revolutions in the ftate of our affairs, 
and entirely lofl in death ; and, though 
they meet with the applaufes of a fond 
devoted iiiclination^ have nothing in them 
fo fubftantially valuable, as to pafs the 
fcrutiny of a cool difinterefted judgments 
But the pleafures of religion depend upon 
the reditude of our minds, and that de- 
pends upon our o\vn will, our own choice 
and relblution ; fo that they are more in 
our power than any other branches of our 
Happinefs : And being v/hat the glorious 
hofts of Angels^ what the Son of God the 
head and lord of ail the armies of hea- 
ven, and the eternal God himfelf^ chiefly 
delight in, they muft be the worthy object 
of our ajjiduous and inflexible purfuit. 

Again, The Happinefs which we ulti- 
timatly propofe fhould be uniform^ and 
not inconjlftent with itfelf. All the branches 
of it ought to terminate in one pointy all 
the means made ufe of for the attaining it 
ihould confpire to one end : For if they 
draw different ways, they unhinge and 


Of the true Happinefs of Man. 39 

diflradt the mind ; the neceflary effect of Serm. 
which mufl be confiifion and mifery. But H. 
thus it is with all criminal and inordinate ^^^""^^^^ 
paffions. — Let pride and covetotifnefs^ 
or fenfuality and covetoufnefs, prevail to 
any confiderable degree in the fame per- 
fon ( as there are infinite cafes fuppofable, 
in which the impulfes of thefe different 
paflions may happen to interfere) " they 
** will of courfe deflroy even the natural 
" fi!fi pleafures that each might feparately 
^* afford :" And which foever of them is 
denied its proper gratification, the conflict 
may be as arduous and painjul^ as iofubdue 
it altogether; though it has nothing of 
honour, or pleafure, or profpedt of a re- 
ward hereafter to counterballance it. Or 
let us put another cafe, of a man that 
would make a kind of compofition for his 
Happinefs, by uniting the two difcordant 
and incompatible principles of vice and vir- 
tue. He is a referved irrefolute finner, and 
obferves, as it were, a moderation in his 
exceffes : And becaufe religion, or fear, 
may hinder him going the utmofl lengths 
in debauchery, he hopes to patch up what 
may pafs for a good character upon the 
P 4 whole } 

^o Of the true Happinefs of Man, 

Se RM. whole ', and be, if not a title to heaven 
n. upon the Jlri^ terms of the gofpel, and 

^^y'^'^ jpj ^ judgment of equity ^ at leall a recom- 
mendation to mercy, But how is this 

inconfifiency likely to fervc his purpofe ? 
A few particular cafes may occur that may 
be exceptions^ but, if we argue from the 
nature of things, this muft be the ^^/z^r^/ 

conclufion," That his vices will always 

be incroaching, and gaining ground, on 
his fenfe of virtue ; or what there is flill 
remaining, in him, oi natural confcience 
will be ojjicioiis in upbraiding and con- 
demning his evil pradices : So that he is 
unhappy Ipoth wa.ys', not to mention the 
dijirefs which he is fure to meet with in 
the final refult of things, and when he is 
fummoned to appear before the impartial 
tribunal of God. The only way left for 
him, is to be truly y i. e. univerfally^ reli- 
gious : Then every part of his conduct 
will have one tendency ^ to the honour of 
God, and his own rational perfection and 
felicity. — What are more properly ftiled 
the duties of piety have evidently this di- 
reBion-, fo has every adt oi jujlice, and 
every office of compajjion and generofity to 


Of the true Happinefs of Man, 41 

our fellow-creatures. And even the regu-S^KM^ 
lar enjoyment of fenfitive pleafure is an ex- H* 
ercife of reafon, or, at leaft, is in purj'u- 
ance of an exercife of reafon : And the 
ftridt and conftant obfervation of the rules 
of regularity, which reafon didtates, is an 
acknowledgment of its fupreme dignity 
and authority — ^-^And reafon being the 
eternal law of God (which revelation has 
only revived^ and enforced by a few pe- 
culiar difcoveries and inftitutions) the fame 
condu<5l muft alfo be an acknowledgment 
of his univerfal rule^ and, confequently, 
is both reafon and religion, 

L A s T L YjThe Happinefs, which we have 
in view, mull refpedt the whole of our ex- 
iftence. This the common fenfe of man- 
kind immediately aflents to, and, if it be 
at all confulted, forces upon them this na- 
tural and unalterable conclufion : That if 
there be 2, future life, which reafon flrongly 
intimates 5 if there be a future immortal 
life, which revelation exprefly aflerts 5 it 
mufl be moil injudicious condudi^ it mufl 
be furprifing and extravagant folly^ to 
make no frovifon for our interefl in it, 


42 Of the true Happinefs of Man, 

S E RM. and, indeed, not to conlider it as our pri ft- 
11. cipal and moft momentous concern. 

^^i^ Having, thus, (hewn what are the pro- 
per rules to diredt us in our fearch after 
Happinefs, I proceed to confider. 

Secondly, The reafon why fo great 
a part of mankind, tho' they are prompt- 
ed by an ardent and inextingui(hible in- 
ilind: in nature to purfue Happinefs, mifs 
of their end. And it refolves itfelf, in all 
its different fhapes and appearances, uhi- 
mately into this, that they expedl to derive 
their chief felicity from carnal gratifica- 
tions. This is diredly and ftrongly inti- 
mated in thefe words of the Pfalmijl, there 
be many (the multitude, the generality of 
men in almoft every ftation) that fay ^ 
Who will Jhew us any good? i. e. " Who 
** will heap honours upon us ? Who will 
** point out the way to wealth and luxury? 
** Who w41l prefent new fcenes of plea- 
** furey that we may indulge our appetites, 
** and give full fcope to the rovings of a 

" wanton fancy ? " That this was the 

fubftance of what was intended by the fa- 


Of the true Happinefs of Man. 43 

cred writer in this queftion, the words Serm* 
put in oppofition to it, in which he expref- H. 
fes his own wifer fentiments, are an un- 
deniable proof, Lord, lift thou up the 
light of thy countenance upon us : That 
what he here fuggefls is a fair reprefen- 
tation of fa^, experience loudly teftifies ; 
that it is a falfe notion of Happinefs and 
n fatal error, reafon plainly teaches. For, 
what are honours ? What are riches ? 

What is fenfual pleafure ? They are 

light as vanity, feeting as a bubble ; thin 
and unfiibjlantial as air. A high poft is, 
in many inflances, but an eminence of ;;//- 
fery ; honours are continually yZ>^/>7^ from' 
one to another 5 and the brighteft fcenes 
of human glory are fo tranfitory, that 
thofe, who are the principal charaBerSy 
can many times be compared to nothing 
more properly than to great meteors^ which 
give a fudden blaze , and then lofe all their 
light in obfcurity. In like manner it fre- 
quently happens, that men are pinched 
with want, and feel all the real inconve- 
niencies of poverty, in the midft of the 
greateft abundance : And our own expe- 
rience muft have convinced us, to ufe the 


44 Of the true Happinefs of Man. 
Serm. fublime and beautiful language of Holy 
y^^^^L^ Scripture, that riches take to themfelves 
wings ^ and Jly away from their owners. 
And as for the pleafures oi fenfe^ they 
are, at beft, but a fuperficial flafli of de- 
light, followed by lofs of appetite, if not 
by remorfe ; but, generally, they are no- 
thing more than a prefent relief from the 
troublefome and importunate cravings of 

violent and reftlefs defires. The fmner, 

at the fame time that he feems fo gay and 
elate, fo free and unreferved in his plea- 
fures, and (o entirely devoted to his cor- 
rupt inclinations, may be fubftantially and 
inexpreffibly miferable ; and have the 
fource and fpring of his mifery wholly 
in himfelf And thus " the inward fcene, 
" which is of the higheft importance, 
*' and which alone denominates and cha- 
" raSierizes the man, may be a fcene of 
" diftradion, of felf-upbraiding, ofgloo- 
" minefs and horror ; while the outward 
" glares with falfe lights, and is a mere 
" fallacious and unnatural difguife. " 

Let me add to all this, that he who 
places his fupreme good in animal gratifi- 
cations (as he is the flave of capricious and 


Of the true Happinefs of Man. 45 

variable paflions) muft be liable to beSERM* 
difgujled with his very pleafures ; that eve- 11. 
ry entertainment in this low kind of ir- 
rational life, inftead of allaying and calm- 
ing, has a diredl tendency to inflame thofc 
defires, for which there is in nature no 
adequate objed: : And, therefore, however 
he may flatter, blind, and impofe upon 
himfelf, and expedl to find an end of all 
his folicitude, and the full completion of 
his widies, in indulgences of fenfe and 
appetite, he muft certainly be difappointed 
in all his hopes of Happinefs as a man, 
—It may perhaps be faid, that this is, 
in truth, no difappointment to him at all, 
becaufe animal pleafures are his ultimate 
end, and he never afpired after any thing 
more high or refined. Allowing this to 
be the cafe, is he, upon a fair and im- 
partial eftimate, ever the lefs unhappy'^ 
Is he the lefs unhappy for not knowing 
his Happinefs; the lefs unhappy, merely 
becaufe he is infenfible of his fliame and 
mifery ? As long as this delufion continues, 
he can have no inclination^ no motive^ and 
confequently, it can fcarce be truly faid 


46 Of the true Happinefs of Man. 

Serm. that it is in his power , even to endeavour 
I^- to be happy. And yet Happinefs is what 
he profefTes to purfue, and it is for the 
fake of this, that he follows the bent and 
courfe of appetite : So that the conclufion 
is unavoidable, that he muft fufFer a total 
difappointment with refped to the propofed 
fcope of all his defigns and actions, tho' 
he may neither y^^ his difappointment, nor 
Jeel the anxiety and pain of a difappoint- 
ment. The diforders of tumultuous paf- 
fions may, in numberlefs cafes, deprefs and 
obfcure the iinderjianding ; but they can ne- 
ver alter ^ never confound^ the fix'd and im- 
mutable ^^r^;7ffj of things. ** The fcene, 
*' which vanity and paffion reprcfent, is 
** generally fSlitious in a great degree^ 
** high-wrought and figur'd beyond the life, 
** A light and diffolute mind is apt to be 
*' extravagant and unbounded in its prof- 
** pedis, and to magnify beyond all the 
•* proportions of reafon, and all the poj/ibi^ 
" lities of things, as the world is at pre- 
** fent conflituted, its particular and fa- 
" vorite objedt. It muft furely then be 
'* an extreme of folly, when its chief 

" pleafures 

Of the true Happi?iefs of Man. 47 

** pleafures are at the higheji m Janc)\ i.e. Serm, 
*' before they adually exiji-y and leajl H. 
" when they are real. " ^ysr^ 

S OLOMONy therefore, who had (hone 
in the height of luxury and fplendor, had 
indulged himfelf even in mojl of our fa- 
fhionable excefTcs, and given large fcope 
to his fenfes and tafte for vanity, upon a 
review of his conduft difapproved of, def- 
pifed, and feverely condemned the whole 
as a fcene of impertinence and difquietude. 
And we know, from the unalterable na- 
ture of things, that this muft be, in fomc 
degree, the experience of every other fen^ 
fualiji } though he has not ingenuity and 
honour enough to acknowledge it, nor per- 
haps a fufficient fhare of refledion to in- 
able him to difcern it aright, and make 
the proper 2^ of it : Nay, though his 
underftandjng fliould be fo wofully weak- 
ened and defaced, as to look on Solomon 
as having entirely loft xh& politenefs of his • 

tafte, as foon as he was recovered to the 
juji exercife of nis reafon, to fobriety and 
a fenfe of virtue. Prodigious it is, as well 
as highly to be deplored, that {uch Jlrange 
infatuations ftiould prevail amongft man- 
2 kind ! 

^8 Of the true tiappinefs of Man, 

Serm. kind! Inconfiftencles, that one would 
^^' think no ftrain of invention, not even 
prejudice and vice itfelf, could find out a 
way to reconcile. And yet, " though the 
" Have of appetite is apt to admire thofe 
" inftances of fagacity^ which (hew like 
" /parks and faint glimmerings of reafon 
" in brute creatures, and looks upon them 
** as marks oi diJiinBion Sindfuperiority in 
" the animal race, becaufe they, thereby, 
" approach ?iearer to the rank of Human 
** nature ; he, at the fame time, does his 
** utmofl to obliterate that intelligence and 
*' thofe excellent moral capacities, which 
** are the chief preheminence of w^«:" He 
offers to dejpife the chafte, the fedate, the 
ftridtly virtuous, men of ingenuous thought 
and fublime difpofitionsj and to value him- 
felf for his infamy. And as all this fpringg, 
principally, from what I have juft hinted 
at before, viz. from falfe notions of po- 
litenefs (which word feems to operate like 
a charm upon the inconfiderate, the gay, 
the voluptuous) I beg leave to conclude 
this head with obferving, that, whatever 
accide?2tal differences may happen, Human 
nature is in all the fame, and Human 


Of the true Happinefs of Man, 49 

happinefs the fame; vice, in its own na- Serm* 
ture, is equally infamotts, and virtue equa}- II. 
\y fublime and beautiful, under every dcr ^'^'V>r 
gree, w^hether of politenefs or barbarity. 
If, indeed, all our polijhings were applied 
to what is properly the manly part in us, 
to adorn and enlarge the underftanding, 
and give a more attraBive grace, or an air 
of greater dignity to our virtues, they 
would then be truly praife- worthy and ho- 
nourable. But if they are confin'd to the 
ear, the palate, the drefs, the equipage of 
the man, while his mind lies quite uncul- 
tivated, or is over-run with ignorance and 
vice : In this cafe, even thofe whom we 
call favages, provided they have fincere 
piety, though mix'd with fuperflition, 
fortitude, equanimity, probity, frugality, 
continence, generofity and benevolence of 
heart J theje, I fay, upon the fuppolition 
here made ** are really polite-^ — And 
" we ourjehes are barbarous," 

The last thing propofed was to fhew. 
That the favor of God, and his approba- 
tion of them as their Governor and Judge, 
is abfolutely neceffary to the Happinefs of 

Vol. IV? E Mankind^ 

50 Of the true Happwefs of Ma^u 

Serm. Mankind^ and of all intelligent Beings. 
II. But it would be needlefs to attempt a la- 

^y^"^/'^ bour'd proof of this propofition, becaufe, 
in every age, all who have believed a Deity 
and a Providence^ have unanimoufly al- 
lowed it : And no wonder, fince it is not 
a matter of Jiice and intricate deduction, 
but the reafons of it lie plain and obvious 
to all capacities. To have that great Be- 
ing for our enemy y who has the abfolute 
command of nature, and is ths fovereign 
uncontroulable difpofer of ail events, is 
the moll: dreadful idea that the mind of 
man can form. No condition can be Jo 
miferable, as to have infinite wifdom, 
power, and even goodnefs itfelf, engaged 
to punifi us, becaufe we have corrupted 
our high-born nature, and abufed its ex- 
cellent capacities. And therefore, when 
the merciful Governor of the world makes 
us the objecfrs of his kind and favourable 
regard, what higher felicity can vjQpofibly 
attain to ? What can afford more exalted, 
flrong, and durable fatisfadion to the 
mind ? The difpleafure of our Maker in- 
cludes in it the utmofi: diftrefs and iJifa^ny-, 
and Yixs, favor every thing great ^ good, and 


Of the true Happinefs of Man. ,51 

honourable. So that the devout prayer of Serm. 
the Pj'almiji will, likewife, be the humble II. 
and fervent fupplication of every '^ife and v^\^^ 

'virtuous^ man Lord lift thou up the 

light of thy countenance upon us. 

And the only way, in which we can fe- 
cure this ineftimable privilege, and high 
honour, is pointed out to us by Solomon^ at 
the end of the book of Ecclefajies, in thefe 
words: Let us hear the conch fion of the 
whole matter, fear God, and keep his com- 
mandments, for this is the whole of man : 

" A compendium of his duty, and 

** the fum of his happinefs^ 



i|r|i Aefi^ttntid^^ A A A A A Atfb A A A A A A AA A A A A AA<|i 

The Mifchiefs of Vanity, and af- 
feded Wifdom. 

Rom. i. 22. 

ProfeJJing themf elves to be wife^ they 
became fools* 

^^^3%<^HE inftances o? folly y which S E rm^ 
^M^-^^ St. Paul here charges on the HI. 
TJl^ Heathen world, were their ^>^V\J 


introduced and eftablifhed 

in defiance of fome of the firft and ftrong- 

eft dia:ates of reafon ; by which they had 

not only limited the infinite ejjcnce^ and 

E 3 debafed 

54- "The Mif chiefs of Vanity^ 

Serm. debafed the majejly of God, but expofed 
HI. and vilified thie Human nature itfelf. To 

^^^'^ have avoided thefe fcandalous corruptions 
they had an eafy and certain courfe to 
follow ; which confiiled in nothing elfe, 
but their being guided by the original light 
of their own minds. For the principles 
and foundations of true religion were 'viji- 
bly laid in nature. The exiftence, unity, 
eternal power, fupreme excellence, and 
univerfal dominion of the Deity were, or 
might have been^ clearly feen, bei?2g under- 
jiood by the things that are made^ i. e. by 
the fiupendous fabric, and jlnning beauty 
of the univerfe. The evidence is always 
bejore men, and flrikes all their fenfes -, 
and the reflexion on it is natural, and, 
while the faculty of thinking continues, 
next to unavoidable. 

However, the miferably deluded P^- 
gan idolaters made a (hift, by their unna- 
tural fi(5tions, and the extravagance of their 
low and carnal reafonings, to obfcure, and, 
in a manner, obliterate thefe glorious 
truths. They changed the truth of God in- 
to a lye ', or, in other words, in the place 
of the real and only God of the univerfe, 


and affeSied Wifdonu 5 5 

fubftltuted a ftrange multitude of Deities Serm. 
that were but mere chimera's, and the HI* 
creatures of j^?;;<7 .* And ftained the ho- 
nour of that invifible, all-powerful, incor- 
ruptible Being, who created, and ani- 
mates the whole world, by reprefenting 
him under the image of a weak, pajjionate, 
andy/^j//Man, nay, of inferior bafer ani- 
mals ; of the mod irrational, noifome, and 
injur iom animals ; a flupid ox, voracious 
birds^ and foul venemous reptiles. But 
notwithftanding they were thus confufed 
and loft in error, notwithftanding they had 
pitched on fuch emblems of the amiable 
and eternal Deity, as had a dired tenden- 
cy to render him either univerfally mean 
and defpicable, or an objedl of horror and 
detejlation ; and could not have exprelTed 
his character with greater reproach and 
ignominy, if they had adually defigned, 
with open malice, to defame and infult 
him ; notwithftanding all this, I fay, they 
ftill boa fie d of their wifdom, gloried in the 
perfection of their feveral forms of idola- 
try, and were madly incenfed againft the 
true doctrine of the unity of God, and 
the abolition of image'isforjhip, as dajjge" 
E 4 roia 

56 ^e Mif chiefs of Vanity .^ 

Serm. rous novelties^ as mere extravagance and 
in. impious infatuation. And even the great- 

^^^^'^^ eil part of the Philofophers themfelves join- 
ed in paying the ejlablijISd honours to brute 
Deities, and performing offices of religion 
before fenfelefs and inanimate images j and, 
by this means, concurr'd with the vulgar 
in the folemn formalities and follies of 
their fuperftition. Nay, there is this par- 
ticular and remarkable circumftance to 
aggravate their cafe, that they openly 
avowed ,and doubtlefs invented, fophiftical 
reafonings and fubtilties to fupport the 
practice of an outward hypocritical com- 
pliance with the fuperftition of their coun- 
try 5 ** a praiSice evidently abfurd to rea^ 
" fojty becaufe fatal to integrity and honour, 
** and a moft effedual bar to the reforma- 
" tion of mankind in the worft ftate of 
" degeneracy. " This brief relation of 
plain and undeniable fad:s muft entirely 
juftify St. Paul in the general cenfure 
which he paffes upon the Heathen world 

that while they knew God (or had it 

in their power to know him, and ought 
to have difcerned him, by a right ufe of 
their faculties, in the works of nature) 


and affeSled Wifdom, 5 7 

they glorified him not as God, neither were S e r m, 
thankful y but became vain in their ima- 111. 
gi nations : Frofejfmg themj elves to be wife, 
they became fools. 

■' But has this been the cafe only with 
" unenhghtened and bewildered i/d'^/^ZYWif 
" with thofe who were heretofore plung- 
" ed in idolatry, and wanted thofe full 
" difcoveries of one God, and of his love- 
** ly but awful attributes, which the reli- 
" gion of Chrift affords ? " We cannot 

fay this Becaufe inltances have been 

frequent in thefe latter times, and in 
Chriftian countries, of perfons who, un^ 
der the pretence of fuperior difcernmeat, 
and a more thorough infight into the juft 
flate of things, have learnt to refine away 
the common principles of reafon ; to ftart 
groundlefs fuppoftions, and urge them as 
realities ; to fet afide the moft important ^ 
truths on account of objedions, that are 
entirely founded on the imperjedl compre- 
henfion of the Human mind, and the nar- 
row fcope of its intelledual powers j and, 
in fhort, " to be jufl as wifely fceptical^ 
" as the Heathens of old were wifely y?^- 
" perjiitiousr'-^~^\i is indeed impoffible, 


58 7he Mi/chiefs of Vanhy^ 

Serm. that a fincere defire and calm purfuit of 
wifdom, that a free and impartial exer- 
cife of reafon, that a diligent and accu- 
rate fearch after truth, fliould hurt any 
caufe that is worth contending for, or 
lead to any abfurd opinions that are im- 
portant and dangerous, becaufe it is al- 
ways modeft and ingenuous^ and, upon fub- 
jedts of moment, deliberate in weighing 
all circumflances, and cautious and flow 
in determining. We are not therefore to 
imagine that St. Faul intended even ob- 
liquely^ to difparage fuch a becoming tem- 
per and condud: as this ; which is, as it 
were, " religion's barrier^ and ferves to 
'* illuftrate its ufe and excellence." But 
the vain pretence and formal oftentation 
of wifdom^ a concern not for ihtfubJlancCy 
but the ?iame only, is of a quite different 
tendency. " Frofejjing to be wife has a 
" clofer connexion, than is, perhaps, 
** commonly thought, with grofs folly, '* 
And as this is clearly intimated in the 
text, and was, very probably, a principal 
thing in the Apoflle's defigUy I fhall treat 
of it diftindly, and at large, in the 'various 
ways in which it may be the parent and ' 


nnd affeSled Wijdom- 59 

^rc^ of error : From whence feveral ufe-SERM. 
ful refle-ftions will naturally arife, for the HI. 
conclufion and application of this difcourfe. 

A N D in the way of general obfervation 
it muft be allowed, " that there is no paf- 
" fion attending Human nature, which 
" blinds and infatuates fo tiniverfallyy and 
" to fuch an excejjive degree, as Prided 
It is attentive only to itfelf\ and overlooks 
all other objects. It is a narrow paffion 
that contra(fts the wJoole foul, and does 
not leave room enough for the reception and 
entertainment of knowledge. Every fpe- 
cies of Pride produces thefe efFedls in fome 
meafure -, but they appear m.ofl: eminently, 
when that particular fort prevails, which 
may be called, by way of diftindion, the 
Pride of Wifdom. — There are other 
cafes, in which the haughty and arrogant 
may be brought to think calmly, in which 
they may fiiffer infl:ru(ftion, and be con- 
mnced of error ; but when they are under 
the influence of this mofi: inveterate and 
malignant kind of Pride, they are, for the 
moft part, abjolutely incorrigible. 

Thus, for example, the man that 
values himfelf on his wealth, '* will be 

" apt 

6o The Mif chiefs of Vanity^ 

Serm. " apt to deride a wifdom that is poor and 
IIL « meanly habited, and not recommended 
" by the pomp and fhew of outward 
*' circumftances : " But though he may 
think it a difgrace to him to receive in- 
formation from fuch as are in a more in- 
digent 2i.n6L fervile life, he may allow thofe, 
who are as rich as himfelf, to have a con- 
fiderable (hare of knowledge and experience^ 
and improve by their converfation. In 
like manner, he that is elate and fwoln 
to high conceptions by honour and worldly 
grandeur, " may look down with con- 
" tempt on the fentiments of the vulgar, 
" and the didates of common fenfe j" but 
may, however, have one open paffage to his 
mind, through which men of equal, or fu- 
perior dignity may communicate right no- 
tions of things. But if he is vain of his 
underjlanding, and this is the very precife 
point in which his Pride terminates, " it 
" will make him hajly, unfufpicious, and 
** pofitive in his conclufions, and fiubborn 
** in error. " A man of this unhappy 
turn will be apt to imagine all his lights 
to be clear and ftrong. He feldom feels 
any defeB in his capacity, or is confcious 


and affeSied Wifdom, 6 x 

of partiality^ or a isorong method in his in- S erm, 
quiries. He is inclined to truft to \i\sjirjl HI. 
apprehenfions as a fufficient guard againft 
error. Every odd ftart of faticy is likely 
to be magnified as an uncommon and va- 
luable difcovery ; irvelinefs of imagination 
to pafs for a quick and penetrating jiidg- 
mentf and the preftimptions of vanity and 
felf-conceit to be miftaken for the demo?!' 
flratiom of reafon. This is the natural 
ftate of a mind that profcjfes itfelf to be 
wife^ and claims in this refped: a prehe^ 
minence above others : Let us now defcend 
to particulars, and briefly confider the i;j- 
rious JlepSj by which it may be led to 
extravagant fentiment§ in the great points 
of religion. 

In the first place, an arrogant ro«f^/V 
and affeBation of wifdom is always fond 
of being di/iinguijhed^ and naturally loves 
Jingularity^ in order to be remarked for 
a peculiar charader. *' In the way of 
" common reafon^ it might, perhaps, make 
" no figure to engage a particular atten* 
'* tion 5 and, therefore, it muft ftrike out 
** fome new difcovery, that it may not 
f l?e blended with the mafs, the herd, of 

*' mankind. 

62 7he Mif chiefs of Vanity ^ 

Serm. ** mankind, and lofl in a crowd. So that 
III. " this defire of falfe fame diredlly leads 
V'V"^ " to ahjiird and odd opinions ; and there 
" is, indeed, no fetting bounds to the er- 
** rors which it may produce. " From 
this principle alone, moil of the fenfelefs 
paradoxes and libertine dodrines, that have 
ever difturbed and corrupted the world, 
may be eaiily accounted for. If a man, 
with this view of getting fame, and {hew- 
ing an uncommon genius, ftumbles upon 
the truth, it mufl: be by chance, becaufe 
that was not the point he aimed at, but the 
amufement and gratification of his vanity ; 
which may, therefore, be juftly reprefent- 
ed, as giving the mind a perverfe biafs 
to licentioujnefs, both in fentiment and 

But farther, the man of conceited wif- 
dom will be apt, . as experience loudly 
tellifies, to fancy that he can comprehend 
every thing ; which not only demonflrates 
that he has in general a right notion of 
nothing at all, neither of himfelf, nor of 
any part of nature, but mufl fix in his 
mind moft dangerous and fatal prejudices. 
por, FIRST, Upon a principle fo abfo- 


and affeBed TFifdom. 6 3 

lately wrong, no rational fuperftrudure, Serm 
no fcheme of Iblid and ufeful knowledge, ^y^ 
can poffibly be raifed. " Truth cannot 
*' be built on ignorance 2i^ lis foundation % nor 
** can any confequences be fairly deduced 
*' from error, but what are equally errone- 

" neous." Again, he that makes his 

own limited and fhallow comprehenfion 
the jiandard and meafure of truth, has 
nothing by which to form or correH his 
ideas ; " nothing to regulate his judgment 
'■'■ but itfelf " And what if his judgment 
{hould be wrong ; mud wrong be right, 
and falfhood truth, to flatter his arrogance 
and felf-fufficiency ? Or can he be capa- 
ble of making any proficiency, who is thus 
cramp'd in his inquiries, thus devoted and 
inflaved to his prefent conceptions ? It is 
not to be fuppofed. This, however, is 
not the only inconvenience, that fprings 
from fo capital an error. For the fame 
infolent prefumption and pride of heart, 
which makes a perfon arrogate to himfelf 
fuch enlarged and capacious faculties, will 
prompt him to oppofe and reje5i as falfe, 
every thing which he finds he cannot com- 
prehend, or which he does not in faB 


6^ T^he Mifchhfs of Vanityy 

Serm. comprehend, or has never thoroughly con^ 

^^^' iidered : and under the influence of this 
delufion, he will be in danger of re- 
nouncing fome of the mofl weighty and 
beneficial principles of reafon and facred 
did:ates of religion. Thus, for inflance, 
becaufe he cannot conceive how a thinking 
fubftance can be intimately united to mat- 
ter, he may hold himfelf authorifed to 
difpute at leaft, if not to deny, the di- 
JtinB exijience and immortality of the Hu- 
man foul ; becaufe he knows not how the 
feveral parts of the vaftly extended uni- 
yerfe of being are preferved and governed, 
he may imagine himfelf juflified in dif- 
owning a providence ; and having no di" 
Jii?jB and adequate ideas of immenlity or 
eternal duration, he may think it his wifeft 
courfe to profefs himfelf aji Atheiji. 

To which we may add. That he who 
is puffed up with felf-conceit, and affects 
to fhow a depth of wifdom, will probably 
think it incumbent upon him to difpute 
almofl every thing j and take great pains 
to blind himfelf^ and confound others, by 
metaphyseal fhifts and, intricacies. I fay 
blind himfelf^ ** becaufe reafon may be 

" per^ 

and affeSied Wjfdorn. 65 

^^ perplexed and ejttangled^ and render'd Serm. 
" incapable of difcharging its proper office, lil. 
'* by an impertinent habit of cavillings 
" as well as debafed and extinguiflied by 

** fenfuality and Itift.'" The fame per-' 

fon is apt to look upon it as a main ingre- 
dient in a wife man's charader, to oppofe 
and deride all public principles : And 
therefore unlefs all the forms of religion, 
and the prevaili^ig fentiments in every age 
and country, are certainly falfe, he mufl 
fubjedl himfelf to the fatal neceffity of 
difcarding truth and error promijciioujly \ 
and can have 710 rule, by which to diflin- 
guifh and feparate the one from the other, 
" Branches of the religion of nature, and 
** the general principles of morality, are 
" blended with almofi all fchemes : So that 
*' by cenfuring and condemning in the 
" grofs, men are tvtx Jure to be in the 
" wrong in tnany things, whatever chaftce 
" they may have, now and then, to be 
" in the right in others." 

Having given a (hort account of the 
methods, by which the pretenders to un- 
common wifdom may be mifled and turn- 
ed afide from the truth, let us now fee 

Vol. IV. F by 

66 Hoe Mif chiefs of Vaitiiyy 

Se R M. by what means, it is natural to fear, they 
III. will be confirm d and harden d in their op- 
polition to it : And thefe likewile may be 

all derived from their "canity. The 

errors which a perfon of this character 
falls ir^to through raflinefs, the love of 
fingularity, a fupercilious difdain of the 
fatigue of long and laborious thinking 
(which is a dijpciragcment to men of large 
minds, of bright and lively parts; and yi/ 
only for groveling and flow capacities) thefe 
errors, I fay, can in the nature of things 
never be redified, " but by entering on a 
*' new courfe of reflection and examina- 
" tion, and confidering fubjedts calmly, and 
" in their full extent ; or by ajjiftance 
^ from others." But the former of thefe 
his felf-conceit will reprefent as umiecej- 
fary, and the latter it will probably defpife. 
For if, upon the firfl fuperficial view, 
and inacearate loofe furvey of a fubjed:, 
he has taken in the whole compafs of it, 
and digeficd it completely, what is the un- 
avoidable confequencs ? Why, in his opi- 
nion, it mufl be this, tliat his judgment 
is maturely foi ni'd, and that all farther in- 
quiries arc ujekjs. To review the fubjed 


and affeSied JVifdom, 67 

anew implies a fufpicion of his underjlajid- Se rm. 
hig^ i?jgemiity^ or care -, and not to be il^* 
fteddy and firm in his conclufions, his ^'^^'^*'^' 
vanity will reprefent to him as the dif- 
covery of a weak and jiuBuating mind, 
tojjed too and fro by every wind of doSirine : 
And thus all improvements are abfolutely 
precluded. When a man flatters himfelf 
fo grofly, it is hardly poffible he fhould 
ever grow wifer. If his firft rude no- 
tions, of which he is inflexibly tenacious, 
fhould happen to be righty he mufl be 
contented with a fmall portion, in all 
likelihood with the rudiments and out- 
lines of knowledge, and cannot be ex- 
peded to be a deep proficient, or make 
any confiderable advances. But if his 
maxims and deductions are wrongs fo they 
mud conti?me j and there is not the moft 
diftant hope of his being recovered out 
of his beloved ignorance and delulion. 

For he that profejjes himfelf to be 
wifey with the fpirit of pride and often- 
tatlon, will, as was hinted before, enter- 
tain very degrading thoughts of the opi- 
nions and reafonlngs of the refl: of the 
world : ^* So that as he is not likely 
F 2 *' to 


68 I'he Mif chiefs of Vanity y 

Serm. " to find any deliverance from his errors 
III. " from within^ he cuts himfelf off from 
" all foreign help." — The conceptions of 
others are trite and unelevated, their ideas 
grofs and confafed, their arguments tri- 
vial and inconcluiive. — This is the ge- 
nuine temper and language of pride, the 
language it has fpoke in all ages; it is 
indeed the very paiiion \ik\^ laid open to 
public view, aiid defcribed in legible 
characters : So that where it happens to 
be a predominant vice, perfons are not 
likely to be reduced to a true fenfe of 
things by the mofl difcreet and judicious 
inftrudion. '^ And whatever y?(jf/^ of wif- 
** dom there may be in the world, it will 
" probably be of very YiixXtfervice to them ; 
*' nor can the difference be a great deal, with 
*' refpect to any folid advantage which they 
*' may derive from it, whether the times in 
" which they live are dark and barbarous, 
" ov ingenuous 2LV\difjquiJitive." For we ge- 
nerally find it to be neceffary that we fhould 
have fome refped: for others, in order to 
our receiving any benefit, any increafe of 
knowledge^ by their converfation. If they 
are the objcds of our Jl'orny their argu- 

and affeEied Wtfdoffu 69 

ments will be fo far from having their Serm. 
proper weighty that their charadler, and the m* 
light they Itand in, will be too infigni- 
ficant even to engage our attention. They 
are condemned in part before they are 
heard J wq are not only difpofed to a lifl- 
lefs and fullen indifference^ but are, it 
may be, dired;ly prejudiced. And then 
neither the force of reafon^ nor the charms 
of eloquence will move us : Or, at beft, 
they will make but a faint impreflion, 
not deeply Jixed, and therefore the fooner 

and the more eafily erafed What 

holds true with rerpe(Sl to particular cha- 
raBerSy in the common courfe of life, is 
the misfortune almoft univerjally where 
the pride of knowledge has taken poflef- 
fion ; almofl: all mankind are treated with 
a fovereign contempt ; And, therefore, 
there is the utmoft probability, that their 
moft w^ife and generous endeavours will 
fail of the defired efiedl to remove fuch 
an inwrought and obflinate prejudice, 
which is mixed and tempered with the 
very genius and habit of the mind. 

But, befides all this, there is another 

impediment in the way to prevent ivifdom 

F 3 and 

70 7^^ Mi/chiefs of Vanity^ 

S E R M. and vanity from uniting, and that is, that 
^I^' felf-conceit and modefty are at an irrecon- 
cileable variance : So that this bafe and moft 
degenerate vice is afiamed of nothing fo 
much, as of what is really moft laudable, 
viz. of ingenuity in acknovi^iedging mif- 
takes ; which, in themfelves, are not the 
peculiar diflionour of any fi7igle perfon, but 
fpring from the general imperfeSiion of 
Human nature. *' A man might, in truth, 
*' be as juftly aftiamed of hunger and 
" thirjiy and the whole train of his fen- 
" ptiije appetites and inclinations, as of 
*' his liablenefs to err. They are both the 
*' eftablifhed conftitution of things, de- 
'' termined and unalterable." And, yet, 
behold the inconfifiency of a mind capti- 
vated and ruled by Pride 1 "It can bear 
** to talk without pain of a decaying frame, 
*' of brutal impulfes, and all ^t glories of 
** the underflanding faded ^ or dejiroyed 
" by the fudden violent {hock of a dif- 

" temper ; But the words error y con- 

'^ J^ifi^^^ ^^ fentiment, and partial views 
** of things, are hard to be pronounced ; 
'* though it be altogether as notorious, 
*' from experience and common obferva- 

*' tion. 

and affeSled TVifdom, 7 1 

^ tion, that every man is unavoidably Serm. 
^* expofed to thefe defeBs, as it is that he H^. 
** has fenfes and pajjions^ or that he is ^^"^"^^^ 
** mortair And, indeed, the former na- 
turally refult from the iatter^ which are 
the true fource of the limitation, dark- 
iiefs, and diforder of our rational faculties. 
The falfe fhame , which we are now 
fpeaking of, has this fubftantial mifery 
generally attending it, that it extirpates all 
notion oi fincerity and fenfe of honour^ 

and renders error incurable. Upon the 

whole then what lights what improve- 
ment in fubfl-antial knowledge^ and efpe- 
eially in knowledge of a religious or moral 
kind, can be expeBed-, and what abfurd 
extravagant opinions may not be expedled, 
when vanity, and an arrogant pretence and 
afFe(5lation of wifdom, have gained the af- 
cendent? And hov^r natural is it for men, 
thus profejjing themfehes to be wife^ not 
only to become abfurd and corrupt in their 
imaginations, but irreclaimable in their 
follies? The refle(3:ions, fuggefted by the 
foregoing difcourfe, are chiefly thefe, 

First, As one grand inftance of //;;//- 

ous felly^ which St. Paul has charged on 

F 4 the 

7 2 'The Mif chiefs of Vanity^ 

S E R M. the Heathen world, was this, that they 
11^- changed the glory of the incoruptible God 
^^ into images made like unto corruptible men^ 
and irrational animals j " we cannot, 
" furely, but think it high time that this 
" fcandal was entirely banijhed from all 
" C/)r//?/^« churches : And efpecially from 
*' Proteftant churches, which have fo- 
*' lemnly renounced the inventions of men 
*' as a fiandard, and profelTed to adliere 
" to the Scriptures (againft all arbitrary 
" incroachments) as their ultimate and 

Ifaiahxl. ** o/z/y rulc." To ivhom wHl ye liken me? 

johni 1 8 ^^*^^^ ^^^ ^■^^^y ^^^' — -^^ ^^^^ hath feen the 
Chap. V. J]:ape of God, fays our blelTed Saviour. — 

*' The attempting, therefore, to defcribe 

" ihtinvijible and immortal Dt\iy by lines 

" and figures^ or any material emblems, 

*' is a manifefl oppofition to the dodrinc 

*' of revelation^ as well as fliocking to the 

*^ undepraved fenfe of nature. And the 

" immorality is the more flagrant, becaufe 

" material beings, and fuch as are per- 

" ceptible to fenfe, are either wholly in- 

^* animate,, or mere animals without rea- 

" fon, or an inferior, if not the very 

f ' loiioef order of intelligent creatures. " 


and affeBed Wifdom, 7 3 

For this both 'Jewi and Mahometans infult Serm. 

us : Who with all their corruptions, and HI. 

groundlefs infidelity in other points, " ad- 

*' here invariably to the acknowledgment 

'' of one God and Father of all j and ab- 

** hor the thought of admitting a partner 

** with him in his fupreme glory and do- 

** minion, and of debafing his fpiritualy 

^' infinite, and incomprehenfible eflence 

** by fuperjiitious pidfiires or images. " 

Again, secondly. As all the idola- 
tries and fuperftitions among the Gentiles^ 
before the coming of Chrift, proceeded in 
a great meafure from a vain and affeSfed 
wifdom, many likewife of the moft dan- 
gerous innovations, in Chrijiian faith and 
worfhip, have fprung from ihofame fource; 
■from a profejjing to be unfe beyond the 
jiandard: Which in all matters of religion, 
purely Chrijiian , mufl: be the dodlrine of 
Chrift alone^ as it is contained in the writ- 
ings of the New Teflament. This being 
wifer than the rule of wifdom has, in 
many in fiances, abolifhed the plain origi- 
nal truths of the gofpel, to make way for 
mere founds, empty forms and fiadows of 
frtith^ and mirtaken metaphy/ics ; which 


74 ^^ Mtf chiefs of Vanity ^ 8cc. 

Serm- (though it has not, perhaps, always been 
III. diredly intended) have had in fa(5t this 

W^^ melancholy efFed, " To foment end- 

" kfs contentions, and expofe Chriftia- 
*' nity to fcorn and ridicule." This our 
very profejfion of the Gofpel, and the re- 
ligious veneration which we pretend to 
have for it, fhould make us all, in our 
feveral ftations, ftrongly concerned to pre- 
vent : In order to which, nothing can be 
a more effecftual means, than to check 
arrogant prcfumption and f elf -conceit ; and 
to improve in ourfelves at all times, and 
recommend to others, that humble, inge- 
ntious, and tradable fpirit, which is infe- 
parable from the love of truth, and a ne- 
ceflary ingredient in a wife and virtuous 



Of the diftiiKa Offices and Ufes of 
Reafon and Revelation. 

pRoy. XX. 27. 

The fpirit of man is the candle of 
the Lord. 

^5^^ Y the fpirit of man we mufl S e rm. 
neceffarily underftand the IV. 
intelligent thinking prin- 
ciple, that naturally direds 
to the knowledge of God, 
and points out the difference of good and 
pvil ; and which, according to the man- 
ner in which it operates, and the various 
offices in which it is employed, is Ililed 
underjlanding^ confcience, will, memory 


76 Of the diJltnSi Offices andUfes 

Serm. (which are all no other than the faculty of 
y\^l. reafon differently exercifcd :) And as this is 
called the candle of the Lord, the general 
obfervation immediately fuggefted by the 
text is, that " Reafon is a Divine light." 
This is natural light; but Revelation we 
acknowledge to be an extraordinary light 
from heaven. — I (hall endeavour to fhew, 
in the following difcourfe, thefe two ai'C 
fo far from reprefenting things in oppo/ite 
views, and difagreeing colours, that they 
add a liijire to each other. And the me- 
thod 1 fliall proceed in will be to confi- 

der, FIRST, How far the province of 

Reafon extends : And then to point out 
the excellencies of Revelation, and its pe- 
culiar advantages. No fubjed: can be of 
greater importance, in direding and re- 
gulating our inquiries after truth-, and, 
by not underflanding it aright, we fhall 
be in danger of bringing reproach and 
contempt both on natural and revealed re- 

In the first place, then, it is properly 
and fokly the bufinefs of Reafon to deter- 
mine, in general, concerning the bei?7g^ 
perfcBions^ and providence of God j thofe 


of Reafon and Revelation, 7 7 

great truths and ^r/? principles, on which Serm. 
ali religion natural and revealed is found- IV". 
ed. For when we attempt the proof of 
thefe from Revelation, we involve our- 
felves in a maze of infuperable difficulties, 
in an inextricable labyrinth of darknefs 

and confufion. We necefTarily take it 

for granted that there h a God^ when we 
attempt to prove that any particular fcheme 
of religion is a Revelation from God j and 
yet afterwards go about to eftablifh, what 
we had before aflumed as a certain prin- 
ciple, by the words of Revelation. This 
is the fame kind of abfurdity, as if a man 
(hould fet himfelf to argue the wifdom 
and goodnefs of God, before he was able 
to prove his exiflence-, and then conclude, 
** that there muji be fuch a fupreme and 
" eternal Being, becaufe he had Jhewn 

" him to be wife and good." That 

the omnifcient Father of our fpirits, who 
perfedly underftands the frame of the 
Human mind, canhy an internal illumi- 
nation convince mankind both of his ex- 
iftence and providential government, feems 
highly probable. However, as v/e can- 
not, without the moft idle and frantio 


yS Of the diJlinSi Offices and Ufes 

Serm. enthufiafm, pretend to fuch extraordinary 
I^« and immediate difcoveries, this is not pro- 

^^^^^ perly the point in queftion : Which muft 
be ftated thus, " whether thefe important 
" truths are capable of being proved by 
** the niere teftimony of any external Re- 
** velation ? or whether they are de-^ 
** dudliom o^ Reafon, which every fuch 
** Revelation prefuppofes T* 

That the latter of thefe is really the 
cafe, is in a manner felf- evident. For the 
very pretence of a Divine Revelation would 
be ridiculous, if there was no God : And 
if the contrary could not be demonftrated 
by the mere light of nature, and there was 
not fufRcient ground to believe rt on the 
common principles of Reafon, it muft ap- 
pear ridiculous to all mankind. Befides, 
by what methods could we pofiibly con- 
vince any of the truth of a Revelatio?!^ 
tinlefs he be already fatisfied with refpedt 
to this fundamental Article ? If wc tell 
him, that he is obliged to receive certain 
doftrines becaufe God has revealed thetn, the 
queftion, which he may naturally be ima- 
gined to put to us upon this, is. How we 
hww that there is a God? Should we re- 

of Reafon and Revelation. 79 

ply, that we are affured of it becaufe Z'^ Serm, 
himfelf has faid it, it might immediately IV. 
be objefted, that this is taking the very ^^^v^ 
thing in debate for granted : And we muft 
of neceflity be bewildered, and forced to 
give up the caufe, if our Reafon is not 
capable of fuggefting other arguments for 
it ariting from the nature of things. Nay, 
I may proceed one flep further, and add 
to what has been already faid, that it is 
impoffible for us to prove, with any good 
degree of probability, the truth of Re- 
vealed Religion, " if we are not capable 
** of being previoujly convinced, by our 
** own refledions and reafonings, not on- 
•* ly of God's being and government of the 
*' world, but of the excellence 2indperfec- 
*' tion of his moral character ; " Since no- 
thing is more clear and unqueflionable 
than this, that neither miracles, nor the 
intrinfic good?iefs of the dodrine, can be 
urged as a fufficient evidence ; unlefs wc 
are affured that the Deity is too jii/l and 
mercij'uly to fuffer miracles to bs wrought 
by inferior beings to i???poJe upon his crea- 
tures, and betray them into da?igerous error-, 
and withal of fuch confummate 'wijdom, 


8o Of the diJllnSi Offices and Ufes 

Serm. fuch ftri£t and unfpotted ^z/nVv, that no 
IV. principles but what are confijlent and ra^ 
tionalj and calculated to promote virtue 
and happi?iefsy can derive their original 
from him. 

Should it be faid, that the miracles 
which are performed lo atteji the autho- 
rity of a Revelation, are alfo ftrong and 
undeniable proofs of the being and provi- 
dence of God : I anfwer, that, " upon 
*^ the fuppofition that reafon cannot de- 
** duce thefe great truths from ihtjiruc^ 
" ture of the univerfe, and the general 
*' courfe of nature, this may be juftly 
'' quejiioned. "For thofe efeBs which are 
always vifible, th&Jixed and [landing laws 
of nature, difcover at leaft equal wif- 
dom, power, and goodnefs, as can appear 
in any miraculous operations we can con- 
ceive of. ** The latter indeed, being un- 
" ufual^ ftrike more fenjibly, and make 
*• a deeper imprejjion^ than the regular 
*' and imiform appearances of beauty and 
" grandeur in the univerfe, which are 
" conftantly before us;" but cannot, if 
duly confidered, give us more exalted ideas 
of the power ixnd Jkill of the Agent. The 
1 ppping 

of Reafon and Revelation. S jc 

{lopping the fun in his daily courfe (I Serm^ 
chufe, in this place, to fpeak in the Ian- IV. 
guage ol fcriptm-e^ in conformity to 'u?//- 
^•^r prejudices) xhc flopping i\\Q fim, I fay, 
in his daily courfe (which is one of the 
miracles, recorded in the Old Teflament) 
cannot in itfelf be deemed 2i greater ope- 
ration, than the lighting up at firft that 
glorious luminary : Nor is the reftoring a 
dead perfon to life more wonderful (though 
it vn-diy fiirprife us more) than the commu- 
nicating life to innumerable kinds of ani- 
mals, and to various orders of rational be- 
ings. So that no miracles can fairly be ad- 
mitted as a demonftration of the exifie?ice 
of an eternal mind, the creator and gover- 
nor of all J if i\\Q fabric of the world be 
not, to the univerfal Reafon of men, a 
tnuch fuller demonftration of it : " Which 
" is of fo complicated a nature, and con- 
*' tains in it fuch an infinite number and 
*' diver fity of effects, as muft exhibit more 
" inconteflable proofs oi oiwn'i^oitnQCj and 
** brighter fignatures of moil curious con- 
" trivance and extenfive goodnefs, than 
" all ihe extraordinary produdions of the 
" ?nira^ulous kind that ever have happen- 
VoL. IV. G " cd, 

8^ Of the difilnSl Offices and Ufes 

5erm.** ed, or which, we have folid ground 
IV. " to expeft, etjer will happen amongft 

* • men. 

But allowing that miracles might he 
fi- convincing proof of God's being and 
providence, the general argument, which 
I haVe been purfuing, cannot in the leaft 
be weakened by it j becaufe all that can 
be inferred from it is, that the external 
evidences of a Revelation are equally firong 
for the firft principles of natural religion : 
And with refped: to the argument from 
miracles^ as well as thofe more numerous 
arguments which may be drawn from the 
dijpojition and frame of the vifible world, 
it muft ftill be left to Reafon to determine, 
whether they are fujicient or inconclufive* 
For it is only by means of our intelleiClual 
powers that we can weigh the force of 
evidence, or are capable of conviSlion.'-~ 
So that to take from Reafon its unqueft ion- 
able prerogative of fixing and afcertaining 
the being, perfe(^ions, and providence of 
God, not only undermines the authority^ 
and derogates from the honour ^ of Revela- 
tion ; but will be found, in its confequences, 
t6 fubvert the main articles of the Religion 


of Reafon and Revelation* ^7, 

Kki Nature, which is the bafn and foiin-S-E'^yi. 
dation of it j and, of courfe, to have a ^ • 
diredl tendency to harden fceptical and ^"^^^^ 
perverted minds in infidelity and atheifm. 

Again, SECONDLY, As it is the office 
of Reafon to ftate and determine the fun- 
damental principles of natural religion, it 
muft likewife be allowed to judge con- 
eerning the eflential marks and charadiers 
of a divine Revelation in general, and the 
evide?jce that is neceffary to fupport it : 
And whether any particular Revelation 
anfwers to thefe charaders, and brings 
with it unexceptionable credentials of a 
Divine original. That there are fome pe- 
culiar characters, and difcrimitiating pro- 
perties, by which every pretence of Re- 
velation muft be tried^ is as certain, as 
that there is an invariable riile^ in all 
cafes of religion and morality, to diftin- 
guifti betwixt truth and error. Other- 
wife we are expofed to endlejs delufions, 
and can have no guai'd again ft the moft 

jlupid enthufiafm. But how fhall we 

know what thefe characters are, but from 

our Reafon^ which is the only faculty we 

have to judge by j and without which we 

G 2 {hould 

8^ Of the dijlinSl Officer and Ufes 

Serm. fliould be as bU?id ^\\d undifceniing, as /;/- 
IV. capable of piety, virtue, and moral govern- 

t/'VNj ment, as the very bfutc creatures ? Or in 
what way can we be fatisiied, whether 
any particular fcheme deferves the name 
of a Divme Rco elation^ or be an abfurd 
and wicked i?npoflure, but by the help of 
the fame intellcBual light placed in our 
minds by the great Creator ? To fay that 
we are bound to receive all thefe things 
implicitly^ on the credit of the Revelation 
itfelf, is to fuppofe it a Divine Revelation 
before we have proved it ta be fuch -^ 
which can only be done by the methods 
which I have propofed. 

* Besides, if we admit li to determine 

th^fu/lice of its claim by its own autho- 
Fity,, we lay ourfelves open to the artifice 
and impofition of every bold and conlident 
deceiver, who may be tempted to take 
the advantage of our inattention and cre- 
dulity : And indeed there is no poffibility 
of preventing this mifchief, but by fre- 
quent exercifes of mature deliberation and 
rational inquiry. We cannot account, on 
any other principle but that of ftanding 
by, and iiibmitting to, the decifms of 


of Reafon and Revelation, 8 5 

Reafon^ for CKir believing any Revelation Serm. 
at all, or preferring one pretended fcheme 1^ • 
of Revealed Religion to another ; for our ' 
embracing theGofpelj and rejeding the 
Alchoran, — ' — For njchy do V7e acknow- 
ledge the Chriftian Religion to be true ? 
' Not, furely, bccaufe we were edu- 
cated in \hQ profejjion of it : For this would 
be as good a plea, in fome other parts of 
the world, for our adhering to Pagan 
fuperftition ; but it is, or ought to be, 
becaufe our Reafon informs us that it is 
worthy of God, that its dodrines are con- 
liftent and credible, tending to promote 
univerfal purity, and excellently adapted 

to refine and perfed Human nature. 

And why^ on the other hand, do we rejed 
Mahometanifm, but " becaufe the fame 
light of Reafon fhews it to be an impof- 
ture J in its fpeculative principles and 
rituals^ a corrupt medley of true religioUj 

and the old Arabian fuperftition : 

Becaufe it encourages the immoderate 
gratification of fenfual appetites; the 
complexion of its precepts being exadly 
fuited to the Paradife it promifes, which 
confifts in fuch grofs animal pleafiircs, 
G 3 *' as 


86 Of the diJlinEi Ofices and Ufes 

Serm." as are utterly beneath that ftate oi per" 
IV". " feBion, to which it muft be the defigfi 
" of genuine unadulterated Religion to 

^* raife mankind :— Becaufe the author 

" of it was a perfon infamous for liifi and 
" ambition^ and confequently not fueh a 
" one, as a man of any conlideration can 
*' imagine that the wifeft and beft of all 
" beings would employ^ in the great work 
'* of inftrudting and reforming an igno- 

" rant and degenerate world ; And, 

" finally, becaufe inftead of working fuch 
" numerous^ public^ and unquejiionable mi- 
" racles, as Chrlfi and his Apojlles per- 
" formed in confirmation of the Chriftian 
" do(5lrine, he propagated his religion by 
" thofe methods of cruel violence^ which 
" are always difcouraging, oppreflive, and 
" injurious to virtue, the proper fupport 
" of bafe views y the natural fource of 
" fraud and hypocrify , and, in a word, 
" as difionotirable to the God and Father 
" of mercies, who delights not in the 
*^ mifery and defi:ru(5lion of his creatures; 
^* as they were contrary to the frame of 
" the Human mind, whofe conviSfions 
l^_ cannot be forced by any worldly terrors, 

' "■ and 

of Reafon and Revelation, Sy 

** and to the nature of true religion which Serm. 
** is entirely free and voluntary" IV. 

Thirdly, It is the bufinefs of Reafon ^^y^^ 
to judge of the fenfe of Revelation, as 
well as of its intrinfic excellence and external 
proofs. There are certain rules^ abfolutely 
neceflary in order to the right underfland- 
ing the Holy Scriptures, which if we do 
not carefully obfcrve, we may run into 
the moft monftrous inconfiftencies in opi^ 
nion, and abfurdities in praBice, For in- 
fiance, the immediate /cope and defign of 
the writers muft be diligently attended 
tp, and the general Jlraln and tenor of the 
Revelation always kept in view : Parallel 
paflages fhould be confulted and comr 
pared, which, as they relate to the fame 
fubjeft, muft illujirate each other j and 
fuch as are of a more obfcure or ambi- 
guous nature ought, according to all rules 
of good interpretation, to be explained 
by others whofe meaning is e^iprefs and 
determinate. And if we negle(^ thefe rules, 
which Reafon prefcribes, our fentiments 
of Revealed Religion will be confufed and 
jndigefted ; Nay, it muft be mere jargon, 
G 4 a fcheme 

88 Of the diJlinSi Offices and Ufes 

Serm. a fcheme full of darknefs, and, as to its 
IV- true fenfe, forever unintelligible. 

^,^-Y^^ n Xhere is no 7nedium between em- 
" ploying our rational faculties in examin- 
*^ ing and flating the doBrines of Reve- 
** lation, and being guided wholly by 
" founds :" If the latter be our cafe, we 
may be able to repeat words, but (hall be- 
lieve nothing, or believe we know not 
what. If, for example, we interpret /rc- 
verbial expreflions literally ; if we take 
general rules in their iitmofi latitude, with- 
out thofe exceptions and limitations which 
other parts of fcripture evidently fuggeft, 
and the nature of the things themselves 
requires ; if we carry figures to their high- 
efl flight, and make no allowances for 
the ftrength and boldnefs of phrafe ufual 
in the Eaflem nations, and flretch and 
torture metaphors to every point pf com- 
parifon, that either a fruitful invention, or 
a heated fancy, or a low and childifli ap- 
prehenfion may didate to us ; what en- 
thufiaftic principles, what wild extrava- 
gancies, may we not build on perverted 

paUages of Scripture? -" Againft com- 

*' mon 

of Reafon and Revelation, 89 

" monfenfe and experience^ truth and mo- Serm, 
" rality^ and the manifeft defign of Scrip- IV- 
*' ture itfelf. " But all thefe inconvcr 
niences will be eafily and certainly avoid- 
ed, if we take our iinderfianding along 
with us, and make that our conftant guide 
in confulting and explaining Revelation. 
What has been hitherto faid is not only 
right in Reafon^ but confirmed by many paf- 
fages of the New TePcament ; in which 
we find an infpired Apoftle appealing to 
the intelligent powers of thofe to whom 

he wrote -^ 7 fpeak as unto wife men j i Cor. x. 

judge ye what I fay. And we are univer- 
sally exhorted, *' to prove all things^ ^^iThefT. v. 
** fearch the Scriptures^ to try the fpirits jojm ^ 
?* whether they are of God^ to be readv to 39- 
'* give an anjwer to every man that afketh i. 
^' us a reafon of the hope that is in us j '^^^^•"'• 
"and, to fum up all, io be children i?j i Cor. xlv. 
*' malice, but in underftanding men. " ^°' 

To which we may add, that it is Rea- 
fon alone that can fet in a clear and dif- 
tindt view the excellencies, peculiar beaU' 
ties, and ifes of Revelation : For if this 
faculty be not capable of difcerning them, 
•;ind difplaying them in their proper light, 


go Of the diJlinSi Offices and Ufes 

Serm. they muft be quite infignificant j and as 
IV'. abfolutely loji with refped: to mankind^ as 

^"^^^ to beings that are entirely irrational. 

In the last place, The light of Rea- 
fon, which is a ray from the eternal fourcc 
f)i intellediual light and truth, is of fuch 
importance, and its authority fo facred, 
that nothing can juftly be admitted as a 
principle of revealed Religion, which is 
repugnant to it. If by Reafon we under- 
fland in general an inward judgment rightly 
and exaBly formed (which amounts to 
much the fame, with the abftraB nature 
and truth of things) it is felf-evident that 
every pretended Revelation, that is incon- 
fiftent with thii^ muft of neceffity be an itn- 
pojiure ; becaufe the all- wife, moft merci- 
ful, and unchangeable God can neither con- 
tradiSl himfelf, nor impofe upon his crea- 
tures. " Or if by Reafon we mean every 
** maii s private Reafon^ even ^to muft be, 
*^ with refpedt to him, the vMivd'^Vt judge 
" of truth." For to fay that he is bound to 
receive any principles, againft ihQfe?ife and 
apprehenfiom of his own mind, is obliging 
him to an impojjibility, viz. to allow that to 
t{e true, which at the fame time he Mieve^ 

\ ' ' tq 

of Reafon and Revelation. 9 j 

to be falfe. All that is advanced againft the S erm. 
ufe oi Reafon in matters of Religion, and to IV"^ 
demonftrate its weaknefs and corruption. 
Is an appeal to it ; eve?-y argument that is 
offered for fetting up other more authori- 
tative decifions of right or wrong, other 
meafures of truth and faKhood, fuppofes 
it qualified for deciding this grand queftion 

" • What is the ultimate flandard in 

** all cafes of this kind ? And if it has 
" ability to determine this fundamenta} 
5' point on which all depends, it may, 
** furely, be permitted to judge in other 
** inftances 5 efpecially in points of far lefs 
" confequence to the general caufe of 
" virtue and piety, to the prefent and fu- 
■ * ture happinefs of mankind." But if 
Reafon has fo large a compafs, and fuch 
an extended authority — what is become 
pf the excellency oi Revelation ; and where 
are all its boafted advantages ? Is it not ren- 
dered in a great degree infignificant ? A 
little refledtion will convince us of the con- 
trary: For, 

First, notwithflanding all that has 

been iaid, the expediency of a Revelation 

is mofl evident, and its ufes are vaftly great 

and confiderable. We can fcarce, indeed, 

Z fuppofej 

9 2 Of the diJllnSi Offices and Ufes 

Serm. fi-ippofe, that there are any truths of the 
IV. Jirji rank, and of univerfal moment with 

^"""^ — ' refpecSt to the happinefs of mankind, but 
what reafon, if duly cultivated, ?mght have 
difcovered. And yet there arc few even of 
ibefe, which the reafon of evefy man has 
adually difcovered j and fcarce any^ but 
what prejudice, vice, and fuperftition have, 
in almoft all ages of the world, perverted 
and darkened. Again, let doBrines^ and 
?'iiles of life, be in themfelves ever fo plain 
to an attentive and inquiring mind, yet 
we know from experience that they may 
be^ we find in fad that they too common- 
ly are^ mlfreprejented^ disfigured^ changed^ 
and lofty through the unhappy influence of 
wrong education and cuilom, through in- 
dolent fuperficial thinking, through pride 
and ftubbornefs of mind, and the force of 
many other irregular paffions and habits j 
which are the natural fource of error. — -> 
And what now is^^ and proper to be done, 
in fuch a circumftance of general and dark 
delufion? " Mull iho benighted under- 
'* {landing be left entirely to itfelf, to flrike 
*^ out fome new and better light ? Is there 
^' no other wife remedy, for the cure of 
•/ this evil, than the mer'e chance^ fre- 

*' auently 

of Reafon and Revelation, ' 93 
" quently againft ftrong probabilities toSERM. 
** the contrary, that the irregular and de- 1. 
" praved judgment may, one time or 
" other, reSiify and reform itfelf? Does 
" the making ufeof mftru^ion, with re- 
" fped to thofe who are out of the way, 
" derogate in the leajft from the natural 
" dignity and ftrength of reafon ? When 
" mankind are aBiuilly abandoned to ido- 
" latry, and over-run with barbarity and 
" ignorance, are they to be given up as 
" irreclaimable^ and denied all helps to 
" inform their underftandings and remove 
" their prejudices? Are communications 
*' of knowledge, in points of the higheft 
** importance, ever the lefs ufeful merely 
•^ becaufe reafon, \i rightly exercifed^ might 
*' have fuggePced juft notions of religion 
" and moral condud ?" Has it not been 
allowed, in all ages, to be of fignal advantage 
in the world to reform public corruptions 
and fuperftitions ? Are not thofe, who have 
been engaged in this great work, treated 
with diftingui(hed honour ? Nay, '' Is not 
*' i\i\sthtvQ}:y pretence oi the oppofers of 
** the Chriftian Revelation, and what they 
" themfelves are apt tft hoafi of (far from 

" deeming 

^4* 0/ the diJiinSi Offices and Ufes 

Serm. *' deeming it an itm^^ximtnt officioufnefs, or 
IV' " an infult on the underftandings of men) 
** as a moft generous and laudable at- 
" tempt ? — ^ — But if it be wife and fit in 
" itfelf, can it be unfit, can it be unwife, in 
" God ? If the expediency of Human in- 
*' firuBiom be acknowledged^ can Divine 
" Revelations be unneceltary ? Can the 
" wifdom, the goodnefsj the compaflion 
" be lefs, where the advantages 2Xt greater ^ 
*' and the condefcenfion is infinitely great- 
*' er?" This, furely, is d. mo^ fantajiical 
method of reafoning, which overturns all 
principles, and (hows the force of preju- 
dice to extinguifh common fenfe. 

For the plain truth of the cafe is this: 
That as a man externally blind moft evi- 
dently flands in need of the dire5iion and 
guidance of thofe who have the ufe of fight, 
fo a darkened nnderfianding wants and re- 
quires infiru5tion. And as it would be ex- 
tremely ridiculous if, in the former inftance, 
we fliould think it neceffary to inquire, 
" whether the man was naturally blind, 
*' or accidentally blind ? and efpecially, if 
" he himfelf (hould refufe to grant the 
'' afliftance and care of others to be a great 

" conve^ 

of Reafon and Revelation. 95 

** convetiience and advantage to him, be- S e r ivri 
'* caufe he had originally the ufe of his IV. 
** eyesy and might ftill have injoyed it en- 
** tirCy had it not been for his own viciouf- 
•* nefs and voluntary indifcretion :" As 
thiSj I fay, would be extremely r/V/Woz^Ji 
fo is it little lefs ah fur d to confound our- 
felvcs by vain and fubtil difquiiitions, whe- 
ther the intellectual blindnefs of mankind 
proceeded from an original defeat in their 
faculties, or from later and more remote 
caufes, in order to judge aright concerning 
the expedience and iifejulnefs of Divine Re- 
velation. There is indeed fome difference 
in the two cafes which have been now re- 
prefented, but it is by no means fufficient 
to deftroy the weight of the general argu- 
ment , which I have drawn from the com- 
parifon. For though a recovery, when 
the inward fenfe is perverted, may not be 
abfolutely impoj/ible, as that of the light 
of the bodily eye fometimes is; it may, 
however, be to the lail degree unlikely with- 
out extraordinary means. — Prejudices 
may be next to invincible Errors deep- 
ly rivetted and ftrongly fuf ported — The 
utmoft efforts of Human reafon, to re- 


96 Of. the diJlinSt Offices a7id Ufes 

Serm. form epidemical vices and abfurd opi- 
nions, may upon trial be found iifelefs 

and iinfuccefsful -There may be no 

probable profped: of any ftirer and more 
effediual method to anfwer this defirable 
end : And the hijiory of mankind, with 
refpedt to rehgion and the knowledge and 
worfhip of the fupreme eternal Deity (at 
the time when Chnftianity was iirfl made 
known) anfwers in a great meafure to the 

foregoing defcription. " y^//? notions 

of God were, in general, erafed from 
the minds of men. His ivorjhip was 
debafed and polluted ; and fcarce any 
traces could be difcerned of the ge- 
nuine and immutable religion of na- 
ture. A degenerate and barbarous fii- 
perilition obftru<fted and clouded even 
the fenfe of morality, and the focial 
virtues. The aids and refinements of 
philofophy were either neijer applied to 
this grand fource of error and deprava- 
tion of manners ^ or were applied in 
vain." And in fuch a difordered and 
almofl incurably bad ftate of things, to 
deny the irradiations of Divine light to be 
of eminent advantage, and a remarkable 


of Reafon and Revelation* 97 

inftance of wife and jjracious condefcen- Serm. 
fion, is a furprizing inftance oi folly and ^h^' 
ingratitude. But further, 

Secondly, A Revelation may not . 
only be ufcful in rediifying corrupt prin- 
ciples, 2iVid ejlablifiing right ones upon a 
better foot of probability ; but may alfo 
afford fiifficient evidence to induce us to 
believe what we could never have expeBedj 
or might, perhaps, have thought improba- 
ble, nay, fome points not at all difcoverable 
by natural reafon ; but yet of fignal con- 
fequence as motives, powerfully and uni- 
verfally exciting, to a regular and inflexi- 
ble courfe of virtue. This will fully ap- 
pear by two inftances — the general refur- 
reciion ,• and the eternity of future re- 
wards : Concerning thcjirji of which rea- 
fon is entirely filent, and gives no intima- 
tion J and as to the latter, though it may 
conjeBure and prejume, and amufe with 
pleafing expeSiatlons, it has no principles 
on which to proceed in forming a certain 
conclufon. So that a Revelation may re- 
vive the attention to moral trjths, that had 
been for a long time obliterated, and loft 
amidft a confufion of errors j it mzy give 
Vol. IV. H a/^«- 

98 Of the diJllnEi Offices andUfes 

S ERM. 2ifan^ion to other dodtrines, which, though 
I'v^. not repugnant to, v/ere however iindifco- 

^"^y^^ i)erable by mere natural Reafon j and make 
even important principles, which to Rea- 
fon are obfcure and doubtful, clear and 

Upon the whole, we learn, from what 
hath been faid, what little foundation 
there is for fctting Faith and Reafon at va^ 
riancc, and making them oppofe, and clafh 
with each other; " fince all faith, that 
" does not fpring from a blind and wild 
" enthujlafmy is an exercife of Reafon, a 
*' Jree inge?iuous exercife of Reafon :" And 
to fuppofe the contrary is difgracing and 
fubverting Chrijiianity., The arguments^ 
or grounds J on which we believe revealed 
religion, are indeed fome extraordinary 
faSfs that happened out of the common 
courfe of nature; " but the procefs in judg- 
** ing of the credibility of thefe fads, and 
'' how far they are an evidence of the 
*' truth of the Revelation, is conducted 
^* aad carried on by the imderjlanding^ as 
" in ail other fubjcds of rational inquiry." 
The reprefenting Faith and Reafon as ifi- 
^onjijlent , principles is the root of infinite 


of Reafon and Revelation. 99 
error and fuperftition : It is the grand ^/z-Serm. 
gine which fupports that heap of folly, 1. 
contradidion, and impiety, that pailes un- 
der the name of religion in Popijh coun- 
tries. And as we have been alanjied of 
late from all quarters, as if this fenfelefs 
and oppreffive fuperfiition was gaining 
ground amongft us (which every friend 
of virtue, every lover of his country^ fliould 
be folicitous to prevent) I can think of 
recommending nothing as more proper to 
put a flop to fo fatal an evil, " than that we 
*' encourage the ui^oi Reafon in religion, 
" and make our Protefiantifm confident; 
" and do not endeavour, by di /gracing 
" Human Reafon, to impofe upon the 
" people incomprehenfible myjleries^ and 
" dodtrines that cannot ftaod an irnpar' 
** tial exa??iitiation :" For thefe are the 
\tvy fame arts, by which Popery itfelf was 
firft eftablifhed, and rofe, by degrees, to 
its utmofl height of extravagance and bar- 
barity The light of Reafon will difpel 

all fuch clouds of error 3 but if that be 
induftrioufly ftifled and extinguifcd, men 
muft be liable to be praSlifed upon by 
pvery crafty infinuating impoilor, and 

H 2 will 

I o o Of the diJlinB Offices and U/es^ &a 

Se r m. will be eafily Jediiced from their religion^. 

^^- 1 (hull conclude with obferving, that 

the more of Keafon we fee in our religion, 
the more fhall we be difpofed to pra6tife 
it J when it appears not to be enjoined by 
a mere arbitrary authority, but to be mofl 
excellent in itfelf, and conducive to our 
happinefs. And as our obligations are 
ftronger, chearfully to follow the rules 
which it prefcribes, our guilty if we con- 
tradid: its precepts by a diffolute and vi- 
cious life, muft be more black and ag- 

KcTi. xii. gi'avated. 1 hefeech you therefore^ bre- 

» • th?'en., by the mercies of God^ that ye pre- 

fent your bodies a living facrijice^ holy^ and 
acceptable to God : For this is your rea- 
sonable Jervice. 



of Blafphemy, and Prophane 

Exodus xx. 7. 

iT/hou Jhall not take the name of the 
Lord thy God in vain : For the 
Lord will not hold hifn guiltlefs^ 
that taketh his natne in vain, 

^^rrfl^#^^'-:^HE/ry? commandment v/as Serm. 
.;;..^;;/0 defigned to enforce the be- y. 
j|«#^ lief and acknowledgment 

pfi'^^-3 nf tKf. imifv nf Cine] thr\t 

%S^^ of the u?jity of God, that 
>^4 fundamental principle of all 
and to lecure from all difnimi- 
tioUy and impious mvafion, the unalienable 
H 3 rights 


I o 2 Of Blafphemy^ 

Serm. rights of his fupreme and univerfal Sove- 
V. reignty : T\\q fccond was intended to main- 

^^*^ tain the wor/hip of the Deity (one of the 
chief branches of moral duty) pure and 
unadulterate, according to the primitive 
laws of reafon and nature j that grofs, un- 
refined, and unworthy apprehenfions of 
him might not, by introducing idolatry^ 
obhterate real piety , and make religio7i an 
enemy to virtue : But the third, which 
5s the fubjed: of the prefent difcourfe, has 
no immediate relation to idolaters j on the 
contrary, it fuppofes a profejfed belief of 
one only Lord, the Governor and Judge 
of mankind j to whom they are ultimate- 
ly accountable, and from whofe tribunal 
there is no appeal. And the dired: view 
of it was, to imprefs on the minds of men 
fuch an awful fenfe of his perfedions and 
providence, as fliould, at once, be a mo- 
tive to the exercife of univerfal virtue, 
and fubferve the unfe and ufefiil purpofes 
for which civil government was inftituted. 

The precept itfelf, in the opinion of 

many great expofitors, might have been 

better tranflated thus : T^hou fialt not take 

, up the ?iame of the Lord thy God falfely, 

" or 

and Propha7ie Swearmg, 103 

^' or make ufe of it by way of appeal to Serm. 
" him as omnifcient^ and to ^yhom be- *^* 
" longs the final decifion in all cafes of 
" equity, in atteftation and fupport of a 
" faljhoody The Pfalmiji therefore joins 
thefe two phrafes together, in his defcrip- 
tion of a rehgious and upright man j that 
he hath net lift up his foul to vanity, ?20?^ P^^l- xxlv; 
fworn deceitfully. And, indeed, for the 
fame general reafon, that falfe Gods are 
filled vanities^ or vain Gods j vain Oaths 
Biay fignify the fame as falfe Oaths. This 
is moft evidently the language of Scrips 
ture^ and agreeable to every fentiment of 
right reafon. And it is very probable, that 
our blelfed Saviour (who had before re- 
ferred diftinBly to other precepts of t-he 
Decalogue) had an immediate regard to 
this particular precept in thefe words : 
Te have heard that it hath been f aid by them Matth.v; 
of old time, tboii fmlt not forfwear thy f elf ^ ^^" 
but flmlt perform unto the Lord thine 

The first and principal thing there- 
fore, that, we may reafonably fuppofe, is 
forbidden by the third comratandment, is 
H 4 Perjury , 

104 ^f Blafphemy^ 

Serm- Perjury; a crime fo repugnant to all the 
^ ' ideas that mankind have ever formed of 
^^f^^ God, and fo utterly fubverfive of public 
order, that it has been held in the utmoft 
abhorrence, and branded with fignal infa- 
my, in every age and nation. The true 
nature of an Oath is this: An appeal to 
God as the fupreme judge of equity, in all 
controverfies about right and wrong, as 
tfee friend and patron of the injured, and 
the fevere punijher of the injurious ; it is 
an appeal to his infinite knowledge as a 
witnefs to our integrity, and an impreca- 
tion of his juft and heavy vengeance upon 
ourfelves, if we are knowingly and deli- 
berately injincere. The man, therefore, who 
fwears pofitively to a faljhood, or takes an 
Oath which he is determined to violate, or 
who, upon any temptation, recedes from 
what he has folemnly and ivarrantably 
fworn, muft not only be entirely deftitute 
of the leafi fpark, and moft languid im- 
preliion, of religion j but, if he is noidi/pe- 
culative Atheijl, muft ad: in dired: contempt 
and defiance of God. He mufl be a down- 
right monfier in nature, deriding the juf- 
tice of the Deity, and challenging Omni- 

and Prophane Swearing. 105 

potefice to do iis worll. And moreover^ Serm. 
the crime of Perjury may not only be at- ^• 
tended, in particular cafes, with extreme- ^^'^■ 
ly injurious confequences j but 2^^ Oaths 
have, in almoft all communities, the laji 
determination in points of focial juftice, 
whether refped;ing life or property^ and 
are the principal Jences of government 
itfelf, belides introducing prefent and 
temporary inconveniencies, it manifeftly 
tends to the overthrow of all right, and 
to the confulion and total diffolutioa of 
all civil focieties. So that there is no pof- 
lible villainy^ but what we may fairly fup- 
pofe the perjured to be capable of com- 
mitting without remorfe : (Or what thofe, 
who fwallow Oaths without conjideration^ 
or allow themfelves to frame equivocations 
and mental referves , are not preparing 
themfelves for the commiflion of) becaufe 
they neither fear God, nor regard man, 
and are abiolutely diverted of all fentiments 
that are either generous^ virtuous, or hu- 

Ve ry near a-kin to this moft abomina- 
ble crime, is, in the second place, the 


To6 Of Blafphemy^ 

Serm. binding ourfelves by an Oath to perform 
V- things that are in their own nature immo- 

^"^^^^'^"^ ral ; or to adhere ftridly and inviolably to 
any engagements and confederacies, which, 
in themfelves, are unlawful and criminal. 

Thirdly, Every rafh and indeliberate 
Oath, and efpecially the habit of wanton 
Swearing in common converfation, falls 
very naturally within the fcope of the pro- 
hibition contained in the text : And, ac- 
cordingly, Chrill: himfelf has exprefsly in- 
cluded k in the juft and r^^/c/W explication 
of this commandment. This alone could 
Matth. V. be the intention of thefe words. Swear not 
^'^' at all, and not to reprefent all Oaths as 
abfolutely unlawful among Chrijlians -, be- 
caufe (to afiign, at prefent, no other rea- 
fons) he himfelf anfwered upon Oath, 
Mat. xxvi. when he Vv^as, long after the delivery of 
^' '^' this divine difcourfe, adjuredhy the High 
Prieft. And as the vice laft-mentioned (to 
the difgrace of religion, and the fhame of 
Human nature) is become an epidemical 
and fafhionable extravagance, it of confe- 
quence demands a particular attention, and 
to be treated of and cenfured more at large. 


a7td Prophane Swearing* loj 

I WOULD therefore obferve, in the Serm. 
FIRST place, that it is an adlof grofs /;«- ^' 
pietv. I take it for granted, that we all 
believe the being of a God ; ** becaufe if 
" we are Atheifls^ this pradice upon our 
" own principles, or rather 'u:ant of prin- 
" ciples, will only be impertinent ^ but not 
" impious :" But if we aje firmly con- 
vinced of the exigence of an eternal fir ft 
caufe, who made and fupports the vaft 
fabric of the univerfe ; if we are convinced 
that his ^reat?jefs tranfcends all our ideas, 
that his dominion is immenfe, his power 
abfolute and uncontroulable, his wifdo?n 
boundlefs and unfearchable, xh-^t all nature 
is fubjeA to his controul, and fubfifts only 
by his invigorating influence, and that 
our own happinefs and mifer)\ nay, our 
very beings are entirely at his difpofal : If, 
I fay, we acknowledge thefe plain dictates 
of reafon, we ought always to entertain 
the moft grand and elevated thoughts of 
God's fupreme glory and majefty. This 
is but a decent refpe(5l to fo perfedl and 
exalted a character j it is no more than 
treating it with common propriety : Which, 
if there be any regard at all due to cha- 


io8 Of Blafphemjy 

S E R M. rasters, in proportion to their dignity and 
V. merit (a truth that is as plain as the dijlinc^ 
tion of colours and founds) muft be a ne- 
cefTary and indifpenfable obligation. Now 
from hence it follows, " that whatever di- 
*' redly tends to lejfen that profound and 
" humble reverence, which all creatures 
" owe to the univerfal Creator, mufb be 
*' highly crimifial" fince no more heinous 
or unnatural an offence can be imagined, 
than to offer indignity to that mofl lovely 
and glorious Being, who has a rational and 
jufl claim to our utmoft affcdion and 

And that this is the natural tendency of 
the vice, which I am now arguing againfl, 
will be evident on a very little reflection. 
For it is an obvious and certain truth, 
" that things of the greatefl: importance 
" and ufe, by being common and familiar, 
" grow to be lefs regarded : Things of 
" the highefl eflimation, by being mixed 
** with low images, are debafed and ren- 
« dered defpicable." If therefore we take 
the liberty to mention the facred and ve- 
nerable name of God on every frivolous 
and flight occafion, it is no wonder if it 


and Prophane Swearing* 109 

becomes a name of very little 7o/(?/««//)' Serm. 
and iveight with us ; or if this rajhnefs V. 
and levity of temper fettle, at length, into ^^^^ 
an habitual difregard. On the contrary, 
it would be againfl the courfg of nature, 
in all other cafes, fl:iould it happen other- 
wife. A due reverence and veneration of 
God can only be maintained, by cultivating 
in our minds a conjlant fenfe. of the infi- 
nite diftance between him and us, a fenfe 
of his incomprehenfible majefty and fpot- 
lefs perfecflion, and of our own compara- 
live meannefs and infignificance : But it 
muft in the end be quite deftroyed, if we 
accujlom ourfelves to imprecate his difplea- 
fure, and appeal to him without having 
any meanings in our loofefl and 'uainefi 
converfations ; and, in fhort, " tdktfuch 
" freedoms with the Almighty Sovereign of 
*' the world, as are not juftifiabie towards 
" one of our ownfpecies, unlefs he be un- 
" quejlionably our inferior!' 

But this is not all: Yot \S\i^ corrupt 
and impious pradice has not only a ten- 
dency to weaken the regards due to our 
Maker, but is, itfelf, an inftance of the 
grofleft irreverence and contempt of him. 


no Of Blafphemy^ 

Ser M. For what can be a more mamfefi token of . 
V. difrepecft, " than to ufe that tremendous 

^^^y^^ «< nam^y which all the hofts of heaven, 
*' beings of the highefl order of intelli- 
" gence, adore and vefierate^ to embellijh 
" idle difcourfe, and give an air and co- 
** lour to our impertinence ? " What a 
daring affront is it to the immaculate fu- 
j'ity of God, to invoke him in the very 
fcenes of our lewdnefs and debauchery? Or 
how, almofl, is it pofTible for us to exprefs 
a more dimmiiti've opinion of his wifdom, 
juftice, and veracity, than by appealing 
to him as a witnefs to the truth of known 
and deliberate faljhood? ** If this be not 
" done in a court of judicature ^ it ftill 
" retains the nature of Perjury ^ though 
*' the effeds, as to the public, may not 
" be the fame. If it be done for our 
•* amufement aud diverjion only, without 
*' any intention to hurt our neighbour, 
*' even then the very beji that can be faid 
*' for us is, that we make a jejl of God^ 
^* and introduce \i\rs\ 2^% the principal ch a- 
" ra&er in a farce ; and that we treat his 
** difpleafure, as a thing that may be 
" fP°^^^4 with, who can make both hea-> 

" yen 

and Prophane Swearmg. 1 1 1 

^' ven and earth to tremble." But fnrely Serm. 
this ought not tp be allowed, if there be V. 
any moral orc/er, 2.ny Jitnefs or propriety of 
condudt, any connexion between juft 
adion, and the nature of things ; for it is 
diredlly contrary to all thefe : It muft, 
therefore, if there be any univerfal rule, 
any Jlandard at all, by which to judge of 
good and evil, be in itfelf abfolutely, and 
always, immoral ; and an adt of plaiiz and 
flagrant immorality. And one might rea- 
fonably expert that it would (hock the 
temper of a man (retaining only general 
notions of decency^ and but flightly influ- 
enced by motives of religion) to think, 
that he has abufed the greateft name in 
the univerfe, and the name of one to 
whom he is under infinite obligations^ 
with fuch infufferable wantonnefs and in- 

But befides the impiety oi Swearing 
by the name of God in our common dif- 
courfe, and on the moft trivial occafions, 
it is likewife, in its confequences, very de- 
trimental to fi)ciety. This follows in part 
from what has been already faid: " For 
\S a (lri(fl regard to the authority of God, 

" and 

112 Of Blafphemy^ 

Serm. *' and an awe of his fupreme grandeur 
V. '* and dominion, inforces the obfervation 
*' of Human laws : Whatever, therefore, 
" leffeiis this regard, mull: proportionably 
** weaken the flrength, and reduce the 
*' flourifliing flate of focieties, by taking 
** away one great fecurity of the civil 
" rights of mankind." 

But the point which I (hall principally 
illuftrate, in order to prove this beyond 
all contradiction, is, that the vice, which 
I am now expofing, has a vifible tendency 
to impair^ and by a gradual procefs quite 
extingidjh^ o\xx fenfe of the facrednefs and 
inviolable obligation of an Oath ; with 
which the fupport of government^ the 
quiet enjoyment of property^ and the 
moft valuable branches of Jocial happi- 
nejs^ are infeperably connected. It is 
impofiible, that while we allow ourfelves 
to trifle with Qaths in the general courfe 
of our behaviour^ we fliould refpe<5l them, 
confidered in their own liatiire, as mat- 
ters of any great importance ; or that 
if we looked upon them as holy ties, 
and inviolable, we fliould make it our 
fraSiice to fwear to what we never in? 


and Prophane Swearing. 113 

tended to perform, or to the truth oFSerm. 
what we knew to be falfe. The neceflary ^* 
tendency of fuch a rafli proceeding is to ^^^^'"'^ 
render Oaths cheap and contemptible^ by di- 
minijhing the awe of God as our impartial 
judge, and the fevere avenger of deceit 
and prevarication. And if we confider 
the matter thoroughly and ferioufly, I am 
perfwaded we (hall be able to affign no 
good reafon, " why a perfon, who has 
'* habituated himfelf to vain Swearing, 
*^ Should not, on a flrofig motive of pri- 
** vate intereft, proceed to deliberate falfe 
** Swearing ; or why he, who makes no 
" fcruple to call God to uoitnefs (when he 
** is only in jefi) in common converfationy 
" fhould not think it as lawful^ when 
" feme very confiderablc temptation pre- 
*' fents itfelf, to do the fame in a court of 
** judicature ?" The fear of civil punifh- 
ment, or a tendernefs for his neighbours 
rights, may perhaps have fofne weight 
with him j but the religious authority of 
an Oath^ which he has been accuftomed 
to treat as a trifling ludicrous thing, can- 
not be fuppofed, in fuch cafes as thefe, to 
have any powerful influence: So that men 
Vol. IV. , I beino: 

114 Of Blafphemy^ 

S ERM. being entirely left to their natural notions of 
V. juflice, and the rejlraint of Human laws, 

^^^y^ (whichj if there be no fear of a fuprcme 
Governour and Judge, will be too eafily 
overborn by a profped: of unlawful gain) 
they mufl, of confequence, be more pre- 
pared for ad:s of Ferjury : *' Which could 
*' not have abounded fo much amongft, 
*' us, if the folemnity of an Oath had 
*' been carefully maintained, and not pro- 
** flituted and debafed by vulgar ufe!* 
And nothing more can be neceflary to 
prove the heinoujhefs of this vice, than the 
having clearly Ihewn that it leads to the 
commiflion of another crime, which ren- 
ders the fecurity of government, the alle- 
giance due to princes, and the pojj'ejjiom, 
charaBerSy and lives of their fubjedts, quitd 
uncertain and precarious. 

And now, upon weighing the matter 
calmly, every one would imagine, that, to 
induce men to commit a crime of (ofoul 
an afpeft to all who are not feafoned and 
hardened to the practice of it, there mufl . 
be fome very confiderable temptation : And 
nothing can be more furprifing than to 
find, " that there is neither a peculiar 

*' founda- 

a?td Propha?ie S'wear'ing, 115 

*' foundation for it ia itature^ or the ^i?- Serm. 

** fire of fenjitive gratification, or an irre- V. 

" giilar private interejl-., but that 'tis mere 

" unaccountable extravagance, fupported 

" by cujloni againft religion^ fenfe^ and de- 

*' cency. The proud ov pajjionate may plead 

*' a propenfity^ or particular biafs in their 

** complexion, to the vices which they 

" refpedively indulge j but this vice fprings 

*' from no conflitutional inflindl \ it is en- 

" tirely oi foreign extract, the produ(ft of 

" vanity and impertinence y If natural 

heat and impetuofity of temper be affigned 

as the fource of it : I anfwer, '* that there 

" are many other ways of venting exceffive 

" pa ill on equally terrible^ and withal more 

*' adapted to the nature of it ; fo that it 

*' is only the force of habit that has di- 

" redted it into this channel, which men 

" would never have thought of, if they 

" had not before difcarded all reverence of 

" God, and concern about religion." Be- 

fides, there can be no peculiar fatisfadion, 

but to a prophane 'vitiated fancy, in the 

'words that compofe an oath, nor in thofe 

of a vile execration. And as for the 

advantages, diredly refulting from this 
1 2 vice. 

1 1 6 Of Blqfphemy^ 

Serm. vice, what arc they? Why, it renders a 
v. man's charatfter fufpeBed, and frequently 

^^^^^ lelTens the confidence that would otherv/ile 
be repofed in him; " fcarce any are fo 
" thoroughly degenerate, as really to efteefn 
" him for it, but many defpife him." So 
that it is very aftonifhing that this odd 
cuftom, the folly of which is equal to its 
n&ickednefs^ fhould even make its way in the 
world, and much more that it ibould be- 
come afajhion^ and an infedion which has 
ipread itfelf amongft all degrees and order$ 

' ' of men, " iince it is neither reafon nor 
" ornament in difcourfe, neither an argu- 
** ment of wit or gallantry^ and has nor 
** plea fur e nor projit attending it, nor any 
" original pajjion in Human nature diredl- 
** ly exciting and prompting to it; but, 
" on the contrary, is a reproach to us as 
" men, as good members of fociety, as pre^ 
** tenders to virtue, unbecoming every wor- 
** thy and honourable charader we can 
" form an idea of, and, in fhort, is one 
" of the mo^ifenjekfs, tmnaturai^ and ufe- 
** lefs vices that was ever invented. Moft 
*' ft range indeed it is, that a man fhould 
*' be fo indujirioujly wicked -, and run all 

" the 

and Prophane Swearing, 117 

" the hazard of it to his immortal foul Serm. 
*' hereafter, only to make his cofiverja- V. 
*' tion ridiciilousr v^^>r^ 

Again, common Swearings and vain 
prophane Curjing, are mean low vices, that 
jurtly expofe the offender to contempt. 
They ** require no talents in order to make 
** a proficiency in them, but may be 
" pradifed, in their utmoft extent of im- 
" piety and guilt, v^rhere there are the 
** mofl defpicable natural abilities, and nQ 
" improvements of art. They are vices 
" in which the meancfi of the people ri- 
" val the greatejl ; fo that there is no di- 
" /iinSiion in them, they do not (hew a 
" man's ranky not fet him at all in a con- 
" fpicuous 2x\^ Jingidar point of view. And 
" finally, they are rude unmannerly vices." 
For all the rules of civility and genteel be- 
haviour are ftrong againft a practice, which 
is efteemed infamous by fome in almofi: all 
companies that we frequent. Men of true 
piety univerfally proteji againft it ; " and 
*' what reafon is there, that they fliould 
" be liable to receive perpetual infults from 
** rakes and libertines V It is undeniably 
g clownijh behaviour (let the external rank 
I 3 and 

1 1 8 Of Blafphemy^ 

Serm. and empty title of the blafphemer be what 
V. it will, it is flill the behaviour of a clown^ 

^-^^^^^^^ cornpleatly ill bred) to treat with a con- 
temptuous familiarity the greatefl and 
hejl of Beings, in the prefence of any who 
have a high veneration of him. Every 
one would naturally rcfent what he thought 
to be an indignity offered to \\\s father or 
jriend'y and it muft give, at leaft, equal 
meafmefs to a virtuous mind, to hear the 
Father of the rational univerfe, and his 
conilant benefa(5tor, treated difrefpeiflfully : 
Upon which account fuch a condudl muil 
be abfolutely favage^ and inconjiftent with 
all juft notions of politenefs. " All which 
*' conliderations, I would hope, may in- 
*' cline perfons of any refinement^ and of 
ec generous tempers, to reform their con- 
?' verfation in this particular j even though 
** they have not (which were infinitely 
** more to be defired) fo much religion, 
" as to be reftrained bv a reverence of 
*' God, and a dread of his difpleafure." 

A N D now having largely proved the 
iinreafonablenefs, infamy, and evil confe- 
quences of 7'ajh and cujiomary Swearing, 


and Propham Sweat^'mg. 119 

and imprecating the vengeance of theSERM. 
Almighty either upon ourfclves or others V. 
(both which fall very naturally within the 
prohibition contained in the third com- 
mandment, of taking the name of the Lord 
our God in vain) I Ihall conclude this 
part of my difcourfe with examining, brief- 
ly, the weight of the feveral excufes which 
are made for thefe Jcandalous and horrid 
vices. And here I fliall not infiH: on that 
poor plea, that they are an imbeliifhment 
and grace to our difcourfe ; becaufe it is 
Jo plain *' that Oaths and Ciirfes are gene- 
" rally mere bluftering expletives^ which 
" difturb the fenfe of a convcrfation, and 
" render it harfh and ungrateful ; that 
*' they who look upon them to be real 
" ornaments muft be incorrigible in their 
** Jiupidit)\ and are not fit to be reofoned 
" with." It is fufficient, likewife, juft 
to mention another excufe equally ahjiird 
and frivolous^ viz. that they ferve to fill 
up blank fpaces^ and fo are a help to the 
weaknefs of the fpeaker's underftanding, 
and fupply, in fome meafure, the poverty 
of his invention : " For why (hould per- 
** fons, who have no inward furniture, 
I 4 " aftca 

T 20 Of Blafphemy^ 

Serm. " ?.fFe6l to be talkej's, when natureh?^^ di* 
V. " rented them to be Jilent F And how 

^^^^^"^ *' monflrous is it, to offer this in vindi- 
*^ cation of z flagrant adt of impiety, that 
" it was neceffary to enable fome men to 
*' converfe to no purpofe, and utter their 
*' crude, trite, and indigefi^d notions that 
^* are of no fervice to the world, but 
" ought rather, in wifdom, to have been 
" altogether Juppre^edV Nor will it be 
neceifary to enlarge much more on the 
pretence, that thefc vices {hew courage 
and height Q>i fpirit j becaufe that is befl: 
difcovered by brave and generous actions ; 
*' And it certainly argues ivaiit of refolu- 
" tion, a timid, JlaviJI:), impotent mind,'' 
to be prevailed upon to condefcend iojin- 
y}// compliances, either to plcQ-k particular 
companies, give ourfelves fafiionaifle airs, 
or ferve any purpofes of vanity, popula- 
rity, or fecular interefi. No man de- 
monftrates fuch true courage, as he that 
defpifes all uliiges, however authoritative^ 
and univerfaliy prevailing, which oppofe 
religiofi and common Jenfe. Such a one 
has not only Jingular inerit in himfelf, 
but will probably be refpeded and honour- 

and Prophane Swearing, 1 2 1 

ed even by thofe, who are too bafe andSERM. 
poor-fpirited io imitate his noble example^ V. 
And to urge cujiom, againft points of mo- ^^^^'^'"'^^ 
rality^ is to fct up the follies and extrava- 
gancies of men, againft the infinite wif- 
dom of God, and the immutable laws of 
nature. Should the licentious and prophane 
perfon plead, farther, fudde?i and violent 
paflion tranfporting him beyond the due 
command of himfelfj ov t\(Q Jireiigth of 
habit; neither will be a particular excufe for 
thefe, more than for a?iy other immoralities. 
Let us therefore apply it to other crimes 
that have a more fiartling Jound^ and are 
branded with more univerfal infamy : 
^* Let the adulterer, for inftance, and the 
** murderer plead, the one the irrejiftible 
"** force of hajly rage and paflion, the other 
*' the over-bearing influence of imperious 
" habits, it will be immediately replied 
" to each : It was thy duty to have cured 
*' thefe excefles of paflion, to have reform^ 
" ed thefe irregular and mifchievous ha-* 
^' bits J and to urge habit in mitigation 
*' of a bad action is making ufe of that 
" very circumftance, which is an aggra- 
f? vation of thy guilt, as an argument to 

*' extenuate 

12 2 Of Blafplmny^ 

Serm. ^' extenuate and foften it." Again, if fuch 
^' impious offenders urge in their excufe, 
^^'^'^"^ tliat they intended nothing by their impie- 
ties ; is it not a (hame that the awful fiame 
of God, that comprehends in it the highefl 
and moft important fenfe^ fhould be ufed 
without a meaning ? Befides, we are now 
talking of the nature of things, of the 
moral good or evil of acftions ; which are 
determined hy fixed invariable v\i\t%. And 
if there be, in nature, a necejjary difference 
between virtue and vice, an adlion may be 
never the lefi wicked and difgraceful, becaufe 
men have m defign in it. "A perficutor^ 
and other criminals of an enormous fize, 
may go beyond meaning 7iothi?ig -, they 
may intend well the promotion of God's 
honour, and the eftablifhment of what 
they think to be truth j and yet their 
condudl may not only be repugnant to 
principles of religion, but abhorrent to 
common humanity'' Should it be faid, 
in the laft place, which, I know, is ap- 
prehended to be the moft popular and the 
fhreivdeji plea of all, that what I am now 
arguing againft is fometimes necejjary to 
manage tempers, that by mild and gentle 


and Prophane Swearing, 123 

fpeeches are ungovernable: I anfwerjSERM, 
** that this never does, nor f^« happen, but ^' 
** when wc are fo addiBed to Blafphemy, ^•'^^^^ 
** that vi^ithout a volley of Oathi and vile 
" Imprecations we are not believed to be 
^* in earnejl F" Let it be once knowji (and 
furely it may be difcovered by many other 
inethods perfe(5lly innocent) that we have 
refoJution enough to fupport our authority^ 
and the regard due to our refpedive cha- 
rad:ers ; and this vice will be as iinncccffa^ 
ry and ufelefs^ as it is difionotirable to God, 
and offenjive to a fober mind. Nay, it is 
not unlikely that we (hall be more ob- 
ferved and attended to ; and that not from 
terror y hni ivomz real refpeB: Which, as 
bad as the world is, it is generally inclined 
to pay to temperate paffions, fobriety, and 
an unaffected virtue. Befides, for want 
of fuch boifterous, domineering, favage 
difcourfe, we {hall never mifs of a proper 
regard^ but on, comparatively, trijiing 
occafions ; not in the great and important 
offices of life : And furely, it cannot be 
worth the while, in order to be ferved 
more expedttioiijly in our pleafures and gay 
fuxurious entertainments (which, to cen- 


124 0/" Blafphemjy 

Serm. fure with unexceptionable modefty, are 
V. of very fmall moment, and redound but 

WV^ little either to our honour or advantage :) 
It cannot, I fay, be worth the while, for 
fo low an end, to indulge a practice that 
bids defiance to the Almighty, leads to 
pernicious confequences with refpedt to 
fociety, and is, on all accounts, abfolutely 
indefenfibk. By the whole of what has 
been offered, I hope it has been unanfwer- 
ably demonftrated, that the particular cha- 
rader which I have endeavoured to ex- 
pofe, only by reprefenting it in its true 
colours, " cannot be reconciled to that of 
*^ a reafonahk or honourable^ becaufe not 
** of a good morale man." I need not 
attempt to prove, fince the words of our 
bleffed Saviour above referred to are,, as to 
thk point, moft exprefs and decifive, that 
it is utterly inconfiftent with the charader 
of a Chriftian ; " as inconfiftent as Ch?'i-. 
^* Jlian and Intemperate^ Chrijlian and Re- 
** vengeful^ though there may be a diife- 
^* rence in the nature of the crimes." — 
So that if we would make our profejjioii 
of Chrijiianity correfpondent with itfelf, 
if we reyerence the voice of reafon and of 

and Propham S'wearlng, 125 

the tmral law, if we delire to be univer- Serm. 
fally agreeable^ and fludy affability and V. 
complaifance to mankind, we fliall not al- 
low ourfelves, in our common converfa- 
tion, to take the name of the Lord our 
God in vaifi; again ft which all manly y hO' 
murable, virtuous^ and chrijlian principles 
do loudly, and with united force, remon- 

In the last place, All Blafphemies^ all 
degrading and irreverent fpeeches concern- 
ing theD^/Vy, muft, by a general parity 
of reafon, be forbidden by the third com- 
mandment: " I fay irreverent fpeeches, 
" becaufe it is eflential to the idea of Blaf' 
*' phemy as a crime ^ that it be, in the in^ 
" tention of the fpeaker, diflionourable and 
*' reproachful to God. "For, otherwife, 
we may ^//be included under the charaBer 
of Blafphemers : Since there is no man, 
who has any erroneous conceptions with re- 
fpedt to the fupreme Being, /. e. abfolutely 
no man at all, but who, if he commu- 
nicates his ideas in words, muft incur all 
the guilt and punijhment of Blafphemy, 


126 of Blafphemy^ 

Serm. li mere fpeadations be fufficient to con- 
V. ftitute that guilt. " And fince this way 
"^ ' " of thinking will condemn all mankind^ 
" however innocent and virtuous, and 
" fincerely reverent of God, this is a 
" demonftration that fo fevere a cenfure, 
" i?ii matters of opinion only, is to the 
" laft degree abfurd and iinjufiijiable 5 
" and may be retorted by oppodte par- 
" ties without end, to the extirpation of 
*' charity, and the fcandal of religion^' 
But if any through pride, difcontent, and 
jlubhornnefs of temper, if any from a 
difpolition of m\nd>averfe to virtue, fet 
themfelves to derogate from the perfe<ftions 
of God, and to revile and calumniate his 
providence ; this, in the moft gentle and 
favourable conftrudion, is very criminal 
Blafphcmy, " the proper fubjedof a mo- 
*' ral lau\ and fitly cognijable at the 
" tribunal of intinitc wifdom and ju- 
'' ftice." 

Nothing now remains to be briefly 
fpoken to but the reafon, by which we 
are deterred from a violation of this fa- 
cred law, exprefled in thefe words ; Tbe 


and Prophane Swearing, 127 

hoRDwill not hold him guilt kfs^ that tahth S e rm. 
■his name in vain. The phrafe here ufed V. 
was not intended to denote a joftening^ 
but rather, perhaps, an aggravation of 
the puni(hment. For it may amount to 
exactly the lame, as if we were to fay 
of any «0rc>r/c)Z/rj offender, '* That HE (hall 
** not efcape unpuniflied j" which, in the 
general opinion of mankind, would come 
up to a diredt affirmation, " That he^ 
" ejpeciaily^ (hall not efcape unpuni(hed.'* 
And it appears from what has been fo 
largely faid, concerning the malignity of 
the crimes here referred to, that this is 
not a mere arbitrary conftitution, but 
founded in wijdofn^ and folid principles 
of equity : For the crimes themfelves are 
heinous i?ifri?2geme?its of the law of rea- 
fon, and of moft deftrutlive tendency ^ and 
therefore require, from the Sovereign Judge 
and Difpenfer of Right, a peculiar and 
exemplary retribution. — I fliall only add, 
by way of conclufion, what this com- 
mandment fuppofes as the ^^i ^iX^d^ foun- 
dation of it, viz. " That we endeavour 
" to improve^ and raife to the higheft 

" pitch 


Of Blafphemy^ &c. 

Serm. *' pitch oi reverence and honour, our Ideas 
V. " of all the attributes, and efpecially of 
" the moral excelle?tcies, and government 
" of God ; Which will not only be an 
" efFedtual check to the impieties therein 
<* prohibited, but a conflant preparative 
*' for all the duties and offices of reli- 
" gion." 



Of exemplary and fliining Cha- 
rad:ers of Virtue. 

Matt. v. i6. 

Let your light fo pine before ??ieny 
that they may fee your good 
works \ and glorify your Father 
who is in heaven^ 

)N the fourteenth verfe oFSerm. 

this chapter, our Saviour VI. 

tells his difciples, that they 

were the light of the world. 

This was e?ninently true of 

the Apoftles (and in general of the Chri- 

ftians at that time) who were called^ by 

Vol. IV. K mani- 

130 Of exemplary and Jhining 

Serm. manifeftations of an extraordinary provi- 
VI. dence, to be bright examples of a rational 

^^^"^T*^ Piety and univerfal Virtue in the midft 
of a degenerate age ; and to difpel thofe 
dark clouds of ignorance and fuperftition, 
with which the whole world was over- 
fpread. And it is in purfuance of the 
fame metaphor, that Religion and Virtue 
are, in the text, reprefented under the 
name of light -, becaufe they will abide 
the teji of reafon, and bear the moft ac- 
curate and fevere examination : Whereas, 
vice and impunity of all kinds are things 
{ofoul and unnatural^ that they are afiamed 
of being dij'coveredy and of having their 
deformity expofed to public view. I {hall 
only add farther, by way of introdu<flion, 
that the fenfe of our Lord's exhortation is 
plainly this : " That the profeffors of his 
*' Religion ftiould endeavour, by a well- 
" conduced courfe of life, and an exem- 
" plary JiriBnefs of manners, to charm 
'* the world to a love of piety and true 
*' goodnefs, and give them amiable no- 
*' tions of Chriftianity, and a ftrong fenfe 
*' of the wifdom, and gracious providence, 

" of 

CharaBers of Virtue. 131 

" of God in its' defign and conflitution." Serm. 
In difcourfing from thefe words ^' . 

I SHALL, in the first place, confider 
what fort of an example it is, that is likely 
to have fuch a prevailing tjiflueiice as to 
excite others to an imitation of it, and 
thereby to glorify God. 

Secondly, Inquire into the reafofis, 
why it may juftly be prefumed, that good 
examples will have io much weight and 
efficacy. And 

Thirdly, Shew more particularly 
how the caufe of Chriftianity is honoured^ 
and receives gvt-Sii Jlrength 2Ln<\ fuppo?'t hy 
the exemplary Piety and Virtue of its 
profefTors: And that, without this, all our 
ingenuity, application, and zeal, will 
fcarce be futficient to maintain a becom- 
ing ejieem and 'veneration of it in the 

First, I am to confider what fort of 

an example it is, that is likely to have 

fuch a prevailing i?jjluence as to excite 

others to an imitation of it, and thereby 

K 2 to 

132 Of exemplary and paining 

Se r m. to glorify God. It muft be an exam- 

VI. pie of what is really virtuous and praife- 

^^^'y^^ worthy : It is neceflary that it be um^ 

firm, and extend to all the branches of 

true goodnefs : That it be eajy and 

natural, free from all appearances of afi 

fist at ion and conftraint : And that it 

be efpecially eminent for tbofe Virtues 
which have a peculiar dignity and beauty 
attending them, and are the moft bright 
and fiining parts even of a good man's 
charader. I fhall fpeak fomewhat di- 
ilindly, but briefly, to each of thefe. 

And, as the ^r/? and f^/^ foundation 
of its influence, it muft be an example of 
what is really virtuous and praife-worthy. 
Religion is in itfelf fo amiable, fo agree- 
able to all the principles of reafon, and 
of fuch evident advantage to mankind, 
that no plauflble objedlion can be made 
to it, when it appears in its native lim- 
plicity and purity. The principle of 
confcience, which is fo univerfal and deep- 
ly rooted in Human nature, bears an 
immediate teftimonv to its truth and ex- 
cellence. Its njoice is fo clear, diftind:, 
and ftrong, that it will not be eafily 


CharaSief'S of Virtue. 133 

filenced by fophi/lical fubtilties : And it Serm. 
feldom happens, that it can be quite VI. 
drowned even by that, which, above all 
other things, darkens the iinderflanding, 
and deftroys the inward fenfe of good 
^nd evil, a courfe of fenfuality and tntejn- 
perance. Arguments direSfly levelled again ft 
the grand obligations of Virtue, inftead of 
meeting v^^ith a ready reception, o^dWand 
JJ:ock the mind, and create a general dijlike 
and horror \ and have had this efFed, not 
only among the weak and fiiperfiitioiis^ but 
with perfons of moft diftinguifhed abili- 
ties, and the moft impartial inquirers into 
nature and the reafon of things, in all 
ages. — • " So powerful an advocate^ has 
" the gracious Creator and Father of the 
** univerfe provided in every man's breaft, 
*^ for what is immutably the fupreme per- 
^* fedion and happinefs of all intelligent 
" beings : And fo great is the force, fo 
" uncontroulable the authority, of pure 
** and undefiled religion." 

But when other things are mi xeil with 

it, either quite foreig?i{vom its true nature 

and defign, or plainly ijicojijijlent with its 

genuine and moft important principles, its 

K 3 beauty 

^ 3 + ^f ^^^^pl^^y and Jljining 
Serm. beauty is obfcured and defaced, and, for 
VI. the fake of thefe corrupt additions^ prcju- 
^'^^^^^ dices are entertained againft religion it- 
felf. And it is natural to fear, that fuch 
errors and blemifhes will raife a higher 
difguji, when they appear in real life^ 
in a pretended pattern of piety ; in pro- 
portion as example expofes things in a 
ftronger light than any mere defcription^ 
which is comparatively faint and languid. 
^' An example of religion, therefore, that 
'* is propofed to firike the world around 
" us, and engage their imitation^ mufl be 
^* difcreetly and judicioujly condu(5ted : It 
'* mufl proceed on a right general fcheme 
■' of religion in all its branches: It mud 
" reprefent nothing as an ejfential part of 
'* it, but what has a jure foundation in 
" reafon or revelation : It mufl not ex- 
'* prefs an equ(il regard to things of a low 
" and trifling nature, which have no con- 
'* neBion with real Virtue and the good 
'* of mankind, as to the jufl government 
'' of the pafiions, and the indifpenfable 
'* offices of piety, juftice, and mercy : It 
f * muft neither be rendered frightful by 
ff unnccefTary rigors, nor extravagant by 

CharaSters of Virtue. 135 

" high flights of enthufiafm, nor be ^i^-Serm. 

*' bafed by fuperftition : In a word, it ^*' 

" muft be an example that a isoife man, 

*' upon reJieSiion^ may approve of and 

*' imitate." If we would comply with 

our Saviour's exhortation, and thereby do 

honour to religion, we muft conducft our 

felves fo, that men may fee our^W works j 

" works that will recommend themfehes by 

" their intrinfic fitnefs, either as a^s of 

" obedience to God, or as they are agreeable 

" to the frame of Human nature, and per- 

" feBive of li^^faculties j and ngt offend 

*^ and harden them, in a contempt of all 

*- religion, by our follies and excefles.' 

Suffer me to illuftrate this matter 
farther by an inftance or two, which will 
naturally lead to a true judgment in all 
other cafes. The things I choofe to men- 
tion, particularly, are zeal and mortif ca- 
tion. When we fee a man exprefs 

a becoming concern for the great t rutin 
and duties of religion, which are of the 
utmoft importance to the prefent and fu- 
ture happinefs of himfelf and all his fel- 
low-creatures J when he is earneft to pro- 
pagate worthy and honourable apprchen- 
K 4 fions 

136 Of exemplary and Paining 

Serm- fions of God, and an imitation of hi* 
^I- moral excellencies, and fets himfelf to op- 

'^^^'^ pofe, by all rational methods, the progrefs 
of licentioufnefs and vies j when he {hews 
a principal regard to the pradice of im- 
mutable ufeful Virtues, and inculcates right 
JpeculationSy and ritual religion, only in 
J'ubordination to this nobler end, and isr 
much more defirous that true goodnefi 
(liould univerfally prevail, than fcholafiick 
niceties and party-diJiinBions ; when his 
'zeal is enlightened and temperate^ cheriJJj- 
ingy and not expelling, mercy, and has 
no other effed: upon him than to put him 
upon employing all his abilities and ad- 
vantages for promoting truth and piet)'', 
and makes him undaunted and inflexible, 
under the bitterefl: reproaches and fufFer- 
ings, in what he apprehetids to be the 
caufe of God, and of mofl extenfive and 
lading benefit to mankind : . " There is 
" nothing in all this but what reajon mujl 
*' approve, nothing "weak and extra'va- 
" gant, nothing more than a generous 
" warmth and conftancy of refolution, 
*' that the iiature of the thing itfelf re- 
" quires 5 it is an example of greatnefs of 

" mind 

CharaBers of Virtue* 137 

^* mind and an enlarged it'[\{Q. of things, Serm. 
^* oi gratitude to God, and benevolence to vl. 
" men, that commands veneration and ^^*^ 
" refped:. Any thing y/jor/ of this would 
" argue meannefi and bafenefs of fpirit : 
■* It would be fiupidity to be indifferent 
'^ about a thing of fuch vafi: importance 5 
" and to facrifice the glorious caufe of 
** Truth and Virtue, for any confidera- 
" tions of private eafe and intereft, is 
*' moft defpicable cowardice'' But, on 

the contrary, if this noble principle be 
fuffered to run to an excefs, inftead of be- 
ing a credit and fiipport. to religion, it 
becomes of infinite dijfervice to it. If our 
zeal be wholly laid out on triJJes beneath 
the dignity of religion ; on advancing 
fchemes oi fpiritual tyranny -, on abflrufe 
incomprehenfible points, aad outward y^rwi 
and ceremonies^ more than on purity of 
heart and righteoufnefs of life j if it makes 
us fiery and impatient of contradiction, 
rude and infulting, and puts us upon treat- 
ing thofe who differ from us with contempt 
and cruelty, *' fuch an example^ fo con- 
*' trary to every rule of juftice and hu- 
l"" manity, cannot fail of giving offence 

*« to 

138 Of exemplary and JJjining 

Serm. " to wife and confiderate men, and af- 
VI. «' fords, indeed, a fhrewd fufpicion, that 

^^"''^'"^ *' our religion is little lefs than artifice and 
" Jelf-interefir 

The fame general reafoning may be 
applied to the other in fiance, that of mor- 

tijication. To keep all the paffions 

calm and regular, and avoid the excejjes. of 
unlawful pleafure, which debafe Human 
nature, and neceflarily introduce conjiifion 
and mifery ; to check and controul all ten- 
dencies to vice, and maintain conftantly a 
refined fenfe of things, and a relijlo for mo- 
ral enjoyments j in Ihort, to facrifice pre- 
fent temporary good, and the moft alluring 
profpedts of honour and carnal gratifica- 
tion, to the duty we owe to God, and 
the facred dictates of confcience : This, 
which is the only mortification that reli- 
gion requires, forms fo excellent and wor^ 
thy a chara(5ter, as muft engage univerfal 
efieem and admiration. But it will have 
quite another effecSt, when it is made to 
confift in gloominefi and JoUtude^ in ex- 
tirpating the palTions, and offering a per- 
petual 'violence to nature by rcftraining 
innocent dcfires, in uf2rcafi}nable penances, 


CharaElers of Virtue, 139 

effected fever ities, and a referved morofe Serm. 
behaviour : For this, befides the folly of VI. 
it, reprefents rehgion as an objedt of ter- 
ror^ difcou rages and damps the refolution 
of thofe who are well-difpofed, and hard- 
ens the '•jtcious, " In thefe, and every 
" other cafe of a Uke kind, where good 
" principles are carried to ?in extreme ^ and 
" thereby become blemiflies and imper- 
" fc(5tions, and things abfolutely diJiinB 
** from true Piety and Virtue, things hurt- 
** ful, and quite repugnant^ to it, are mixed 
" and blended with it -, even what ispraife- 
" worthy in an example is likely to be 
" overlooked J and generally lofes its weight 
" and efficacy. Such examples indeed are, 
*' upon the whole, not fit to be imitated : 
" It would neither be for the honour of 
*' God, nor for the good of mankind." 

Again, the example that is likely to 
have fuch a prevailing influence as to ex- 
cite others to an imitation of it, and there- 
by to glorify God, muft be uniform^ and 
extend to all the branches of true good- 

nefs. It mufi: be Jleady and confijlent : 

For how can that man exped: to have any 
fegard paid to him, who appears to have 

i^O Of exemplary and pining 

Serm. ?;^ principles of condudt, ?2o fettled rule 
VI. of his adtions ; and whofe life is a perpe- 
tual contradidion to reafo?t and to itfelf? 
The rules of Virtue, of Piety, Jujiice^ 
and Benevolence, of Temperance and Cha^ 
Jtity, are eternal and invariable j and, for 
that reafon, ought to be injiexibly adhered 
to in all circumftances. If therefore we 
pradtife thefe duties only at certain /;z- 
tervahy and at other times are proud, 
(:enforious, uncharitable, or give a loofe 
to fenfuality, fuch a characfter is contempt 
tible and monjirous. The fame may be 
faid, if v^Q exemplify in our behaviour only 
fome Virtues, and negled: others equally 
necefHiry and indifpenfable We can- 
not be fuppofed to a61:, even in thofe in- 
ftanc€S in which our condudt feems to 
be unblameable, either from a regard to 
the reafon of things, or to the authority 

of our Maker -= Our goodnefs will be 

looked upon as conftttiittonal only, or as 

the efFed: oi fancy and humour ^ Our 

ficklenefs and inconflancy will make the 
weak and unthinking judge lightly of re- 
hgion, and be urged by its profeiTed ene- 
mies as a proofs that it is a capricious 


CharaEiers of Virtue* 141 

wanton thing, which has no certain foun- Serm, 
dation to fupport it. — Nay, an example VI. 
fo partial may have this mifchievoiis ef- ^-^V^^ 
fed:, that even a man's vices being ex- 
cufed and foftened, either out of defe- 
rence to his judgment^ or for the fake of 
his good qualities^ they may become much 
more infeBious, and of confequence much 
more dafigerous^ than thofe of the moft 
thoroughly profligate and abandoned //- 

Thirdly, It is abfolutely necefTary that 
a good example, which is propofed for 
imitation^ be eafy and natural^ free from 
all appearances of aff'eBation and con- 
Jlraint. There are proper feafom for every 
duty ; and when they fall in naturally, as 
occafwns and circumjia?ices require, this is 
the true order and decorum of a virtuous 
life ; and an evident proof that we are 
religious from principle, and right inward 
difpofitions. But if by an over-aSfed zeal 
and formality, if by being induftrious to 
difplay our good works to public view, we 
give the world around us reafon to believe 
that we are only playing a part ; it is not 
to be imagined that they v^iW follow our 


t4-2 Of exemplary and Jhimng 

Ser M. example, any farther than their own /V- 
VI. clination or intereft direct. It is not to 

^^^'y^ be expedted that our example can have 
any folid weight, if we ourfelves appear 
not to be in earnejl -, or the influence it 
will have can only be this, to engage 
others to pradife the fame deceit and bypo- 
crijy : But it is much more -probable that 
it will be attended with this very bad con- 
fequence, to make them regard religion 
itfelf as all affeSlation. And if our re- 
ligion fits iineafy upon us, and is clearly 
perceived not to be ^Qfree fervice of li- 
beral znd ingenuous fpirits, but the drudge- 
ry o^ Jlaves extorted from them by ter- 
ror ; this mufl of neceflity ftrengthen that 
common and moft fatal prejudice againft 
the pradtice of it, viz. That it is a grie- 
vous impofition and burden upon Human 
nature, and inconfiftent with true liberty 

and happinefs. Let your religion then 

be chearful; between the two extremes 
of fournefs on the one hand, and a 
thoughtlefs unbecoming levity on the 
other. Enjoy the bleffings of providence 
with an eafy thankful mind, and fcruple 
not to ufey within the bounds of inno- 

Char aB en of Virtue, 143 

ccnc6 and moderation, thofe convenien-SERM. 
cies and agreeable accommodations, which VI. 
God, in his infinite goodnefs, hath afford- 
ed for the delight of Human life. For 
the joyful worjhipper^ who has a lively 
and grateful fenfe of God's munificence, 
muft difcharge his duty in a much more 
acceptable manner, than he that prefumes 
to worfhip him with a peevijh and fret- 
ful mind. And he will find, Hkewife, 
that he is much better difpofed to per- 
form kind ofHces to the refl of mankind, 
than he could poffibly be, if he gave him- 
felf up to fullennefs and di [content. A 
thoroughly virtuous man may not, in- 
deed, have it always in his power to dif- 
pel an habitual gloom^ or divert thofe y^^rj 
and defpondencies^ which are the weak- 
nefs and unhappinefs of his conflitu- 
tion. " But yet, all mufl allow, that 
*' thefe are not the natural attire and 
" garb of Virtue j they dijguife and veil 
" her excellence : And if fhe be really 
*' amiable, beneficent, and Divine, fhe 
*' ought to have fomc brighter diftindiion, 
" and to appear in a more agreeable 
'* and engaging form." It mufl, there- 

144 (^f exemplary and pnnm^ 

Serm. fore, be the unqiieftionable duty of all 
VI. the truly good, to endeavour at leafl^ to 

^''"'^''^ banifh, from their religious manners, both 
the folemnity and ungraceful ftifFnefs of the 
Pharifee^ and thofe recliife, unfociable, de* 
je^ed airs, which have been introduced 
by Jpienetic and /r/^Z?/^^Enthuliafts : For, 
while thefe are continued, piety is quite 
flripped of its own proper ornaments, 
** and affumes the habit of crafty 'vice, 
" and tll-naturer 

Finally, In order to give a good 
example its due efficacy, it fhould be ef- 
pecially eminent for thofe Virtues, which 
have a peculiar noblenefs and beauty at- 
tending them J and are the moft diftin- 
guiflied and jhining parts even of a good 

man's character : For a firm integrity^ 

that no temptations can corrupt y for a 

difinterefted generojity and univerfal good^ 
will to mankind j — for a temper o^ fym- 
pathy 2^Tidfriendfiipy oi gentlenefs and con- 
defcenfion ; and, to enumerate no more par- 
ticulars, for jnodejiy (in oppofition to often- 
tation and arrogance) which, while it de- 
clines and feems leaft fond of applaufe, is 
generally mofl fure of obtaining it ; and 


CharaEters of Virtue, 145 

the eafy iinaffeSled charms of an humble Serm. 
deportment, which ftrike and captivate VI. 
every beholder. There is a certain agree- y-y^^r^ 
Me manner, infeparable from true humi- 
lity, which makes the moil: indifferent 
adtions tolerable at leaft, if not graceful ; 
whereas there is in the contrary condud:, 
for the moft part, a ftlffnefs, infolence, 
and rudenefsj that renders even the beji 

I NOW proceed to inquire, in the se- 
cond place, into i\\Q reafons^ why it may 
juftly be prefumed, that a good example 
will have fo much weight and influence : 

* And, Firji^ It (hews to all mankind 

that the duties of religion are praBicable ; 
and therefore may juftly be required by a 
wife and merciful Governour. Men of 
fenfual inclinationSj and who have con- 
trad:ed habits of vice, are apt to enter- 
tain a very forijudable notion of the rules 
of Virtue J as if they were too refined iox. 
this imperfedt ftate of things, and above 
the prefent debilitated powers of Human 
nature : And, was this obje<5tion true^ it 
would ftrike at the very root of all religion 

Vol. IV. L and 

146 Of exemplary and Jljim?tg 

Serm. and morality. But when wc fee living 
VI. examples of a fublime piety, and regular 

^^'""^'^^felf- government, of benevolence improved 
to a god-like pitch, of firmnefs and con- 
flancy under the foreft trials, this imme- 
diately removes all fuch difcour aging im- 
preffions ; and affords an undeniable de^ 
monjiration^ fuited to all capacities, that 
God has required nothing of us but what 
we have a fiifficient ability to perform. 
And it is very obvious, what a natural 
foundation this is of a virtuous life : For 
when it is once proved that our duty is 
pojjible, its vifible tendency, in every part 
of it, to exalt and perfedl Human nature, 
to promote private happinefs and the ge- 
neral good of the world, will be a fuffi- 
cient argument of its truth and excellence, 
and univerfal obligation ; and leave us 
utterly inexcufabk if we negled: it. 

B u T I may go one ftep further than 
this, and fuggeft another confideration to 
{hew the great force and ejicacy of good 
examples, viz. '* That when we fee the 
** greateft and nobleft ads of Virtue, 
" and the mofl fevere inftances of felf- 
" denial, prad:ifcd with eafe 2Si^ freedom -, 

" we 

CharaBers of Virtue, 147 

*^ we have the clearefl evidence which Serm. 
" any matter oi faB is capable of, that VI. 
" there is not even fo much dijiaiky in ^^1^ 
" religion, as wicked men efpecially fright 
" themfelves with the appreheiifioji of:" 
— That what difficulty there is, is chiefly 
at the Jirji entrance on a virtuous courfe ; 
that it \%no more than what always attends 
the breaking any other flrong habits, and 
fixing contrary difpolitions in the mind j 
and that after we have been, for fome 
time, inured to exercifes of piety, we {hall 
find them much more natural than any 
vicious purfuits ; and the fource of more 
fubftantial and durable fatisfa6lion. 

To all which we may add, That an 
exadt pattern of Virtue is a much better 
direBory^ to the generality of mankind, 
how to condu(ft themfelves in regulating 
the paffions, and in the various offices and 
duties of life, than their ov^'n private re- 
fle(flions : For though the general princi- 
ples and duties of religion are very plainy 
and may eafily enough be accommodated to 
particular circumllances, if men will allow 
fome time for conlideration j yet this is a 
thing that the greatefl part of the world 
L 2 arc 

148 Of exemplary and Jljining 

Se r m. are very little ufed, and flrongly diftnclined, 
VI. to : And to this, among other caufes, it is 

^^^''^^^^ undoubtedly owing, that they run into 
fo many errors and irregularities in their 
behaviour. Whereas when they fee Vir- 
tue, in real life, exemplified in the mi- 
nutell: paaticulars, they quickly difcern 
that it \sjit and reafonabk^ fuited to their 
own condition, and the proper condud: for 
them to follow j though their indolence, 
habitual want of refledion, or multiplicity 
of worldly cares, might have prevented 
their forming, without this help, the fame 
jafl and ufeful conclufions. 

Let it be farther obferved, That there 
is a moft powerful attraBion m a good 
example ; and that both the dignity of 

' Virtue which commands refpedt, and the 

amiable beauties of it which render it the 
objed: of efleem and admiration, are re- 
prefented in the ftrongeft and mod en- 
gaging light. Every one, that knows Hu- 
man nature, muft be convinced, that the 
fame great adions, when exhibited to our 
view in a living example^ flrike more for- 
cibly, and make a much more lafling im- 
preflion upon the mind, than in the moft 


CharaSlers of Virtue. 149 

artful 2iV\di moving narration. The courage^ Serm. 
for inftance, and bravery of the primitive VI. 
Martyrs (who nobly endured the moft ^■^'V^^ 
grievous fuiferings, and chofe rather to die 
than to forfeit their integrity, and defert 
the caufe of God and of his truth) ope- 
rate but faintly when read in hijlory^ in 
comparifon of what they might be ex- 
peded to do on eye-witneffes j and are not 
fo hkely to infpire into others the fame 
7'efolution and magnanimity. So that in this 
refpedt, which is very confiderable, ex- 
ample has much the advantage of mere 

jnftrudtion and reafoning. And, be- 

fides, many of the general arguments for 
a rehgious and virtuous hfe are therein 
delineated in the brightefl colours. — We 
fee the bleflings that temperance procures ; 
health of body, Jlrength and vigour of 
mind, and in general (if compared with 
its contrary vice) a long^ chearful^ happy 

life. In the efteem and high regard 

that are paid to Virtue, we fee it to be the 
almoft unanimous fenfe of mankind, that 
it is the perfection of Human nature, and 
the foundation of public order and hap- 
pinefs. — . In the patience and refignation 
L 3 of 

1^0 Of exemplary and Jhtning 

Serm- of the good man under afflidlions, we 
VI. have a moft convincing and lively proof 

'^'^"^^^^ that religion is our fureft fupport under 
the calamities of life 5 and affords an 
agreeable relief when all other comforts 
leave us, and when a confcioufnefs of 
guilt would be a dreadful aggravation of 
oar mifery. And, to mention no more, 
we are taught by ihtferenity and fteddy 
compofure of a flridly virtuous example, 
that wifdom's ways are ways of pleafant- 
nefs^ and all her paths peace. — " Thefe 
" things are realijed to us, juflified and 
*' confirmed by experience; it is obvious 
" to oar very fenfes that they have a 
*' foundation in nature^ and are certain 
" truths:" Which mufl be much better 
calculated for giving complete fatisfadion 
to the mind, and influencing our condud:, 
than any mere abilradted reafonings. To 
conclude this head : A bright example of 
Piety and Virtue reproves^ and awes the 
diffolute manners of the prophane and vi- 
cious, and naturally txc'iits p^ame and re- 
morfe j it awakens coyijcience and fiber re- 
jie5iion\ it ftirs up a fenfe of ingenuity^ 
which a long courfe of wickednefs may 


CharaSiers of Virtue, 151 

have almoft extingui(hed ; it raifes a noble Serm, 
fpirit of emulation^ which will put men VI. 
on vigorous endeavours to break through 
the evil habits they have contraded, and, 
if it be encouraged, will carry them on 
to a fuhlime pitch of Virtue. They will 
not be contented with low attainments, but 
afpire after perfeSiion j and be ambitious, 
themfelves, to exhibit the fairejl pattern 
of univerfal rectitude and beneficence. 
This may fuffice as a fhort general ac- 
count of the efficacious influence of a 
good example. 

The last thing propofed was to 
fliew, more particularly, That the caufe 
of Chrijiianity is honoured, and receives 
great ftrength and fupport, from the ex^ 
emplary piety and goodnefs of its profcf- 
fors. This will appear undeniably, if we 
confider the reproaches which have been 
thrown upon it, and the injury it has ac- 
tually fufFered, on account of their irre- 
gular and vicious behaviour. And indeed 
to Jlrangers, who know nothing of the 
laws of Chriftianity, and the purity and 
L 4 Jlri5lnefi 

152 Of exemplary a7td Jhining 

^ERM.JlriStnefs of its do6lrines, fuch a behaviour- 
^^i- muft have a very ill afpedt, and naturally 

^^^^ tend to infpire 2i prejudice againft it. And, 
even among oiir fehes^ fome of the moft 
common and popular objecftions againft our 
holy religion have their foundation here. 
The diforders of Chrijiians, efpecially of 
chriftian minijlers^ their infatiate ambition 
and avarice^ pride and unrelenting cruel- 
ty^ l\\QU faBiojis J crafts^ and fpiritual fy- 
ranny j thefe things, I iliy, have been fet 
put in the vcioH J rightful colours in order 
to fully the honour of Chriftianity itfelf. 
" It is, without doubt, an argument of a 
" weak judgment or ^rperverfe difpofition, 
*' to make thofe very diforders objeBions 
** againft the Chriftian fcheme, which it 
*■ fo ftrongly and feverely condemns!' But 
as this is the real ftate of the cafe, and 
many are prejudiced, though it be upon 
fuch a frivolous and {hallow foundation ; 
this calls loudly upon us, if we have any 
concern for the Credit of the Chriftian 
pame, to endeavour to put a ftop to thefe 
linjuft reflections, by having our converfa- 
tion as becomes the go/pel of Chriji. This 

CharaBers of Virtue, 153 

will not ox\\y fiknce all cavils of this kind, Serm, 
but difpofe men to entertain a favourable VI. 
opinion of Chriftianity, and examine it 

with ingenuity and candour. " And 

" if the mtnijiei's of the gcfpel would 
" drop all party-vitvfs^ and be concerned 
" for the intereft of religion in general j 
" if they would be humble and peaceable^ 
" and renounce all i?npofing methods and 
" the deteftable fpirit of perfecution ; if, 
*' in {lead of exorbitant claims and high- 
" flown notions of Churcb-powGr, they 
" would affert and inculcate the right of 
** private judgment, and exhort their 
" hearers to an impartial fludy of the 
" Holy Scriptures; if, inftead of pro- 
*' moting ignorance and fuperjlition to 
" ferve ambitious and felfifli views, they 
" would, in earneft, fet themfelves to 
" form in mens minds rational fenti- 
*' ments of religion, and take them off 
-' from angry controverJieSj and a zeal for 
" trijiing pageant ceremotiies, in order to 
*' promote an univerfal regard to the 
-*' eternal and immutable rules of mora- 
f^ lity, and, inflead of lording it over 

*' God's 

154 Of exemplary and Jhining 

Serm. " God's beritage, would become enfampks 

VI. " to the flock And if all the people 

" would concur in this moll: defirable re- 
" formation, being, as Chriflianity direds, 
*' patterns of purity, peace, and love, and 
" of a generous inflexible virtue" — Then 
we might expe(5t that our holy religion 
would Jlouriflo^ and triumph over all oppo- 
fition ; and that men, being difpofed to 
think favourably of it by beholding the 
blefTed effeBs which it produces, in thus 
refining Human nature, would fubmit to 
the light and evidence of truth. 

There is a great complaint in this 
day of loofenefs of principles, and of the 
growth and progrefs of infidelity. But 
what ilgnify mere complaints, to what pur- 
pofe are the moft pathetic declarations, 
without inquiring into the origin and root 
of this evil, and taking the moft effeBual 
methods to remedy and put a ftop to it ? 
And what are they? — Why it is 
certainly a moft eflential point, that we 
give a due force to our arguments by prac- 
tifmg that univerfal and exalted goodnefs, 
which our holy religion recommends. 

** Without 

CharaBers of Virtue, 155 

«' Without this, it is pretty much indif-SERM. 
" ferent whether we our felves arc Ma- ^^' 
" hornet ans^ Heathens^ Chriftians^ or down- 
" right Atheiftsy And if there is a vi- 
fible inconfiftency between our manners 
on the one hand, and our folemn profef* 
fiom and jludied defences on the other, the 
caufe, which we efpoufe, muft be hable 
to continual infults. — ** Particular ar^ 
*^ guments for its truth and excellence may 
*' be never known, or never confideredy by 
" the bulk of mankind ; but public cor- 
" ruptions are eafily aggravated^ and, with 
*' a little art, worked up vsMo popular 2Xidi 
" fianding objedions againft it." — Let us 
therefore recommend Chriftianity, not by 
endlefs dijput^s about trifles, and the tranf- 
ports of a blind ill-dircded zeal, but by 
the purity of our intentions, and a beau- 
tiful fimplicity of manners j not by treat- 
ing its adverfaries with rudenefs and feve- 
rity, but by joining calmnefs of temper to 
a perfuafive clear nefs and ftrength of rea- 
fon, and by an example of unfpotted and 
irreproachable integrity ; that we may re- 
prefent it to be (as it is in itfclf) " a doc- 

?* trine 

1^6 Of exemplary and Jhiniiig^ &c. 

Serm. *' trine according to godlinefs^ perfeBive 
VI. « of Human nature, and adapted, in the 

'^^'^ " higheft degree, to promote peace on 
" earth and good-will towards inenV In 
a word, let our light fo Jloine before men, 
that they may fee our good works j and 
glorify our Father who is in heaven. 



Of Slander, and Defamation. 

Exodus xx. i6. 

lihou Jhalt not bear falfe witnefs 

againji thy neighbour, 

Sif ^^k^H IS, together with the three S e rmJ 
f^^X^^\Qi'^ precedins; precepts of the VII. 
^fe| ^ WWk ciecalogue, compleat one ^^v^^j 
p^ili^^Scf^B^ part of the fcheme of mo- 
v^ ^='5^^ -^^ ral duty ; as there is con- 
tained in them (either more exprefsly, or 
by an eafy and natural deduction) a prohi- 
bition of all the grcjfer inftances of in- 
juftice^ by which mankind are capable of 
annoying and hurting each other. And as 


158 Of Slander^ and Defamation, 

Serm. the four grand branches of Human fro-- 
VII. perty are, therein, moft plainly and di- 

^^^^^""^ ilindtly comprehended, fo are tbey placed 
in as exa6t an order as can well be devifed ; 
and may ferve, fo far as they extend, for 
a rule, by which to frame a regular trea- 
tife of morality. The Sixth Command- 
ment was intended to fecure the life of 
our neighbour 5 and, in a fair method and 
train of confequential reafoning, his per^ 
fon too from all unjuft and cruel violence : 
The Seventh guards the honour of his houfe : 
The Eighth all the other external branches 
of his property : And the next, which is 
now to be conlidered, his good name and 
character againft unrighteous accufations, 
and againft the infamy and innumerable 
mifchiefs, 'that may derive themfelves from 
\}{\\%fource of evil. 

The words of the text might have 
been more ftridtly rendered, according to 
the Hebrew original, Thou fjalt not anfwer 
againji thy neighbour as a faife witnefs : 
Which feems to imply in it, that the per- 
fon witnejjing is called upon to give his 
teftimony by public authority, and in 
fome eftabliflied legal court oi judicature. 


Of Slander y and Defamation* i^g 

How then, it may be afked, came this toSE rm. 
be particularly inferted among the laws of VII. 
the decalogue, when it had been before ^^'VNi 
prohibited, in the Third Commandment, 
under the head of perjury f — To which 
the anfwer is obvious, " That as there 
** may, in a multitude of cafes, be per- 
" i^0'> where there is no teftimony, good 
" or bad, produced concerning another; 
" fo a man may be a notorious and fcan- 
" dalous falfe witfiefs, where 7io oath at 
** all is required : And the guilt would 
" be exactly the fame, as to the fingle 
*' article of corrupt and iniquitom tejli" 
" mony (to which the text diredly and 
" folely relates) if publick accufations were 
" fupported and carried on, without any 
" form o^ /wearing or folemn appeal to 
" God, upOH the bare ajirmatioji of the 
*' accufer." The things therefore are in 
their nature difiindi^ and may with the 
utmofl propriety be diflindlly forbidden : 
And though thefe crimes were really coin^ 
cident in the Jewi/h flate, or, in other 
words, generally went together (as they 
do likewife in almoft all modern conftitu- 
tions of government) this does not in the 


1 6o Of Slande7\ and Defamaiiom 

Serm. leaft hinder their being of different con- 
*^^*' iideration in themfelves, and the proper 
fubjedl of different laws. And this, I ap- 
prehend, is the true folution of the pre- 
fent cafe. In the Third Commandment 
the perjury alone is condemned, as an 
adt of infolent impiety, and defiance of 
God, whether it was, or was not, com- 
mitted to maintain or confirm a wrong 
and injurious charge againft our neighbour; 
but, in the Ninth Commandment, the 
unrighteous teflimony is the immediate and 
only thing prohibited, without any regard 
had to the offenders /wearing faljly^ or 
taking any oath at all. And as I have 
already fufficiently treated of the crime 
here fpoken of, in the in fiances where 
civil juftice is concerned, under the head 
of perjury, and (hown its pernicious confe- 
quences to fociety, and to mankind in ge- 
neral ; I fliall offer nothing farther on 
that particular branch of the fubjedl. And 
becaufe the iniquity in itfelf is exad:ly 
the farne, though the effeBs may not air- 
ways be the fame, whether it be pradifed 
in civil courts ^ or aded more at large, 
and without referve, on the open theatre 


Of Slander^ and Defamation. i6r 

iof the world j the reafon of the thing not Serm. 
only warrants, but obliges me to point out VII. 
fome of the chief inflances of it, which, ^^v^^ 
be they ever fo common ^ ever io fojlnonable , 
are of moH: flagrant bafcne/s^ and beyond 
expreflion hurtful. 

IiN the FIRST place then, we are guilty, 
to a very notorious and inexcufeable degree, 
of bearing falj'e witnefs, when we fay 
things, to the difparagement and prejudice 
of others, which We know to be untruths: 
This is moft properly ftiled caluf?iny ; " and 
** be the occafion of it ever fo plaufihlc^ 
" whether to advance our fortune^ efla- 
*' blifli our character without a rival, or 
" even to opprefs and fink an enemy, it 
" muil: be branded with fignal infamy by 
*' all who retain a right and clear fenfe of 
" the difference of good and evil, becaufe 
** it is a vile compound of deliberate /^/y- 

** />W and injiifliceJ' Next to this, 

is the raifmg, ox fpreading, fcandalous and 
injurious reports of any \N\i\\o\xt fufficient 
evidence, or upon Jlight and improbable 
grounds — fuch as the bad word of an 
enemy, or of prejudiced and intcrefted 
perfons, who are under a vifible bJafs to 

Vol. IV. M mijre^^ 

t62 Of Slander^ Md DefamattOfu 

Serm. tnifreprefent tht'ir ch3it2L&.Qr — fuch^ again^ 
VII. are loofe imperfeSf accounts picked up by 

^''^^^ bufy officious tale-bearers^ who are fo eager 
to get and propagate a ne^ ftory, that 
they arc eaflly deceived^ and muft of ne- 
ceflity lofe many material circumftances, 
and therefore ought never to be credited 
*-^ — or, to mention no more, common re- 
porty than which nothing is more uncer- 
tain^ variable y and inconjijlent with itfelf ; 
which frequently takes its rife from an en- 
tire mifiake of perfons and circumflances j 
is fometimes mere furmife and invention ; 
and generally difguifes the little truth, that 
happens to be the foundation of it, under 
a heap oi fabulous additions. Of the fame 
nature is all that Defamation^ which is 
grounded on conjediure TLnAfufpicion-, for 
inftance, if when a man's adions are ca- 
pable both of a good and bad interpreta- 
tion, we fix on that which is the moft 
unfavourable^ and reprefent them, with 
fuch an invidious turn, to their great dif- 
ad vantage — This is a high pitch of 
iniquity and inhumanity : For if every 
one's charadter may be defcribed, accord- 
ing to the dijidence and gloomy fufpicions 


Of Slander^ and Defamation, 163 

of a jealous temper, the bejl and moflSERM, 
unexceptionable will be treated unmercifully^ VII. 
arkd muft expert to fall under vaxy Jevere "^^^^^^^"^ 
and hard cenfure. It is therefore one part 
of the Ffalmijl^s defcription of that hap- 
py man, who fJoall abide in the tabernacle 
of the Lord, and dwell in his holy hill^ that 
he taketh not up a reproach againfi his 
neighbour. And St. Paul aflures us, that 
chriftian charity thi?jketh no evily but be^ 
lieveth all things ^ and hopeth all things. To 
which it may be added, that where this 
fublime and generous principle operates in 
its true perfection, it will Jix this as an 
eternal and indifpenfabie rule — never to 
fay any reproachful things, on the moft 
warrantable and urgent occafions, even of 
thofe who have deferved the leafl from 
us, but what we are fatisfied, upon good 
grounds^ are real faift, and may be proved 
beyond all contradiBion. 

Another thing, which may juftly 
be reckoned a branch of the vice prohibit- 
ed in the text, is DetraBion : For we arc 
moft evidently guilty of bearing a corrupt 
and falje teflimony againft our neighbour, 
when we derogate from his general worth, 
M 2 wc 

164 Of Slander^ a7id Defamation, 

Serm. or endeavour to leflen t\\Q particular mc- 
VII. fit of his good adions. This may be at- 
te?jipted various ways j fome of which arc 
more grofs abujes^ others more refined and 
artful to avoid the di\xtdifoul appearance 
of envy and ill-nature. I fhall briefly hint 
at a few of the moft confiderable — — As 
when we fuggeft that a man's virtues may 
proceed not from choice or motives of 
rehgion, but from other principles that 
either diminijh their excellence, or render 
them mere pieces of artifice and well-aBed 
hypocrifyj his temperance and chaflity 
from natural conflitution ; his devotion and 
piety from a warm^ lively^ and enthifiafiic 
temper ; or that the outward form of vir- 
tue only is alTumed, to promote a prefent 
fecular intereft — When we confound his 
good qualities with vices that bear fome re- 
femblance of them j calling fteadinefs and 
inflexible integrity obfiinacy, and a flrid: 
regulation of manners, and affiduity and 
zeal in the duties of piety, precifenefs and 
Juperflition — When, to cafl: an afperlion 
on his general character, we revive the 
memory oi former jnifcarriages, which he 
has fincerely repented of and long relin- 

quiHied ^; 

Of Slander y and Defamation. 165 

quifliedj or elfe, when we hear him com- Serm. 
mended, throw in his blemifhes to fhade VII. 
and eclipfc his merit, or allow that his 
conduct upon the iiohole has been praife- 
worthy and honourable, but fliew at the 
fame time in what parts it might flill have 
excelled; and in order to hide our defign to 
detraB from his virtues, and infmuate his 
defe5fs the more fuccefsfully, conclude all 
v/kh.iome general folem?i refledions upon 
the imperfeBion of the world, and the 
Jrailty of the beft of men. 

Let me add once more, that if we 
bear falfe witnefs agai?iji oqr neighbour, 
when we derogate from the merit of his 
good qualities, we muft undeniably in- 
volve ourfelves in the fame guilt, when 
we aggravate his faults : — Not making 
due allowances for the univerfal infirmity 
of Human nature, and the particular un- 
happinefs of the offender, arifing from 
ftrength of pajjion, a corrupt, loofe, un- 
guarded education^ and the temptations and 
dijiculties with which he is furrounded j 
or elfe hiding all circumftances that, in a 
^iindid conflrudion, would be thought to 
M 3 extenuate 

i66 Of Slander^ and Defamation. 

St. -RM. extenuate his guilt, and magnifying ^-u^-ry 
VII. little point which has an unjavourabk af- 

^^^^'^^^ ped:, and tends to his dtfgrace; or, final- 
ly, denominating his charaBer from one 
fingle ad:ion which is contrary to the rules 
of virtue and religion, and beftowing on 
him, for that^ thofe black and odiou» 
titles, which only belong to habits of vice. 
Thus for example, if any one, in fpeak- 
ing of St. Peter y fhould give this general 
account of him, that he was a liar and 
an apoftate^ becaufe he once denied his 
mafter, and mention nothing at all of his 
repentance^ and of the fincere and inviolar 
ble regard to truths which he always dif- 
covered in the remaining part of his life,; 
or if we h-^ of another, that he is a fen- 
fualifi and a libertine^ merely from one a£i 
of intemperance ; is not this moft infa- 
mous Slander, is it confiilent with candor^ 
or with common f^w/Vy.^ — If \Nt Jirain 
thus unmercifully, and allow ourlelves 
fuch an unbounded latitude of cenfure, no 
reputations can be foje : And if the fu- 
preme almighty Judge was to treat his 
frail creatures with ihcjdme rigour, which 


Of Slander <i and Defamation. 167 

they are fo apt to exprefs towards each Serm. 
other, all mankind muft be cut off from VII. 
the expedlation and hope of mercy. <-^"v^ 

It may be proper to remark farther, 
that all thcfc feveral kinds and degrees of 
guilt may be contracted, not only by di- 
reBly and openly aflaulting our neighbour's 
character (which is the faireft method of 
Defamation, and has, comparatively fpeak- 
ing, fomc ihew of generojity in it, as it 
gives him an opportunity oi felf-defence) 
not only, I fay, may all this guilt be con- 
traded by dired affaults upon our neigh- 
bour's charader, but by other ways that 
operate in the dark^ and privately wider- 
mine it, and are, therefore, both more l?ajf 
and mifcbievaiis : Such as clofe ivhifper- 
ingSy by which a man's reputation rnay 
be defrayed before he himfelf knows that 
it is attacked i and the fcandal is much 
more likely to fpre^id^ becaufe there is no 
alarm given, and confequently but little 
precaution taken to prevent it j fuch, again, 
as general hints, fufficient to infufe an /// 
opinion of others, but withal fo indifiindi^ 
that the perfon, who ufes this wicked art^ 
•jinnot have the Calumny fajiened upon 
M 4 hini) 

1 68 Of Slander^ and Defamation, 

Serm- him, and is at liberty iodijbwnit. Far-? 
VII. ther, the more referved detrador executes 

^^"^^^^^^ the vile defiga of blafting his neighbour's 
good name, by (hewing marks of diffi- 
dence when he hears his character men- 
tioned with applaufe j expreffing, indeed, 
a cold faint hope that he is a worthy per- 
fon, and delcrves refpecft and honour ; 
but ftrongly intimating either in his dif- 
courfe, or by a manner of behaviour much 
more llgnificant, that he has his reafons 
for doubting of it : Which are left to be 
framed^ multiplied^ and aggravated by fancy 
and fufpicion. Or elfe, an exception is 
made to his excellencies; he is juft, but 
not generous j honeft, but not prudent \ 
and it is much lamented, that he has not 
thefe added to his other good qualities, to 
fender him a Jinijhcd and JJnning charac- 
ter. Add to all this, that if thefe Jly 
methods of abufe are accompanied "with 
*' a feeming air of friendihip, and ten- 
^' der concern for oqr neighbour's repu- 
*' tation," they may be reckoned the moft 
refined, exquifite, and diabolical art of 
Defamation. The wounds of fuch a friend, 
who, it is tiii>en for granted, would not 

Of Slander^ and Defamation. 169 

exaggerate y nor fay the worft^ nor theSERM, 
ivhoky of what he knows, ftrike deepy and *^"» 
are, of all others, the moft incurable. — 
I SHALL conclude this head, with juft 
mentioning fome of the different aggra- 
vatiom of the injuftice and wickednefs 
which I am now arguing againft, arifing 
from the principles from whence it pro- 
ceeds. The bigheft pitch of guilt is, when 
it fprings from envy and inveterate malice 
againft our brother. The next to this is, 
when without any formal enmity, or 
conceived refentment, we join in defam- 
ing him, to recommend ourfelves to the 
favour of thofe on whom we have a de- 
pendence, and to advance our own/>r/- 
vate advantage. The leaji criminal of all 
is the wimeaning Slanderer, who is free 
with the characters of others from a mere 
habit of imperti7ience, or to fuit himfelf 
with the ge?tius of the company which he 
frequents, or for want of other fubjedls of 
difcourfe. And yet even this^ who is the 
moft innocent, has a great proportion of 
guilt : For he may be altogether as mif- 
cbievoun, and do the fame fatal execution, 
as a deliberate offender. And it muft 


j^S>i Of Slander y and Defamation. 

Sj?RM. be a wretched excufe for any man*s iiv* 
VII. juftice, in the judgment of impartial rea- 
fon, to fay that he never thought^ nor 
had any concern about the confequences of 
bis adtions. Such perfons are like Solomon\ 
madman, with this unhappy diftindion, 
that their madnefs is voluntary : " They 

Tror,xxvu «« fcattcr firc-brands^ arrows and deatbt 

V and fay, Are we not in fport ? '* 

Having thus particularly and largely 
ipecified feveral ways, in which we may 
become juflly chargeable with the viola- 
tion of the precept contained in the text, 
and which may oftentimes produce more 
malignant and fatal efFed:s, than even the 
bearing falfe witnefs againft our neighbour 
in a public court of jufiice \ I (hall now 
fuggefl a few confiderations, befides what 
have already been occafionally offered, 
which will unconteftably demonftrate the 
iniquity and evil of this ^pradtice. — —It is 
extremely baje in itfelf, as an adt of high 
injujlkey as it argues a defedl of genero- 
Jityy and always fprings from mean prin- 
ciples, from the moft deteftahle pafTions 
of Human nature, and frequently from 
an evil confcience. For thofe who want 


Of Slander^ and Defamation, 171 

foundnefs and integrity of heart themfelves, S e RM, 
and are inwardly conviBed of irregulari- VII. 
ties and diforders in their own conduft, ^^'^■ 
are naturally fufpicious and inclined to 
cenfure others ; and fond of all opportu- 
nities of publijhing and augmenting their 
faults, for fear of too narrow 2i Jcrutiny 
into their owa. 

This vice is, in the second place, 
an unnatural perverfion of the defign of 
fpeechy which was ordained, by the great 
creator, to be the inftrument of friendly 
intercourfe and common happinefs in fo- 
ciety. Without it, we might indeed herd 
together as the brutes do, prompted by aa 
inJiinSl of nature ; but fhould have been 
incapable of enjoying the moft refined plea- 
fures of Human life, incapable of improving 
each other's minds, and of communicating 
mutual advice and confolation. The un- 
queftionable defign of fpeech is, thereforgj 
the goodoi mankind : So that if we abufe 
this noble faculty, which is elegantly ftiled 
in fcripture the glory of a man, in Calum- 
ny and Detraction, and confequently in 
^oing mijcbief to our fellow-creatures, 


172 Of Slander^ and Defamation. 

Serm. we contradi6t the gracious intent of the 
V^I* God of nature, and ungratefully abufe his 
dijlinguijhed goodnefs in our frame and con- 

But this leads me to mention the^^r-^ 
nicious confequences of Defamation ; to 
the criminal himfelf, the perfon de-f 

famed, to fociety, and to religion. 

To the defamer himfelf, as it expofes him 
to hatred, and makes all perfons fhy of 
his converfation, leflens his credit, and 
brings embarrafTments and difficulties up- 
on him, obliging him frequently to make 
fhameful recantations, and redrefs the 
grievance which his unruly tongue had 
occafioned j in fhort, as it renders him 
the object of univerfal contempt, cools 
the affedtion of his friends, exafperates 
and heightens the refentment of his ene- 
mies, naturally creates inward remorfe 
and fhame, and fubjed:s him to the dif- 
pleafure of God, and the punilLments of 
the world to come. — ^The mifchievous 
confequences to the perfon defamed are, 
lofs of reputation, on which his fub- 
iiftence and comfort in a great meafure 
depend, and which by an ingenuous 


Of Slander y and Defamation, 173 

mind is held equally facred with life ; and, S e r m. 
as the refult of this, great inward difquie- VII. 
tude and anxiety, a diminution of his ^-'''VNJ 
bufinefs, and confiderable injury in his 
worldly affairs : So that the bad efFecfts of 
this vice may not be confined to the firft 
more immediate fufferer, but tranfmitted 
down to his pojlerity. To fociety Defa- 
mation and Slander mufl be extremely 
prejudicial, by deftroying confidence, har- 
mony, and mutual good offices, and pro- 
ducing animofity, contention, and violence 
among the members of it. — And to reli- 
•ligion it may be of difiervice various ways: 
By fixing in the minds of many ftrong 
prejudices againft it, when they fee that 
.its profefibrs pay fo little regard to jufticc 
and humanity J by difclofing the fecret 
failings of perfons, otherwife of excellent 
characters, who are either employed to 
explain religion, or eminent fupports of 
it; I fliall only add, that the virulent 
terms of reproach, with which the feveral 
parties of Chriftians have loaded each other 
for trifling infignificant differences, have 
been a means of extirpating that amia- 
ble fpirit of charity and unconfined be- 

174 ^f Slander^ and Defamation. 

S E R M. nevolence, which the gofpel exprefsly ftilcs 
VII. the bond of perfeBion, and vifibly weak- 
*^"^^^^ en the intereft of common chriftianily, 
and expofc it to infolent derifion. And 
upon thefc accounts, viz. becaufc Defa- 
mation is io vile a crime in itfelf, io in- 
confiftent with all religion natural and 
revealed, fuch a monflrous abufe of fpeech 
the peculiar privilege of humanity; and 
for its deftrudtive confequences with re- 
Ipecfl to private peace, the caufe of virtue, 
and the general order and happinefs of the 
world ; for thefe reafons, I fay, it is a 
very judicious obfervation of Solomon^ that 
Pfov.x. be who uttereth Jlander is a fool : And it is 
* * given by St.P/;«/(in a quotation from the Old 
Teftament)asa defcription of moft abandon- 
Rom, iii. ed linners, that their throat is an open fepul- 
\i\ ^^* chre — the poifon ofAfps is under their lips^ 
their mouth isfullofcurjing and hitter nefs — 
and the way of peace they have not known, 

I SHALL only add, to the account 
which has been given of Slander, Calum- 
ny, and bearing falfe witnefs, that if we 
take a pleafure in reporting our neigh- 
bour's real faults, becaufe his reputation 
is thereby fuUicd, or we imagine that our 


Of Slander^ and Defamation, 17*5 

own will (hinc with the greater laflre, SfiRivt. 
even this is bafenefs and malice 5 if we make VII , 
a cujlom of talking them over merely for 
our amufementy or fuffcr ourfelves to be 
too highly entertained by fuch melancholy 
fubjcifts, for the fake of fome ludicrous 
circumftances that may happen to be 
mixed with them, we (hall lofe, by 
degrees, that inward reludfance and hor- 
ror^ that ought to be, always, firong in 
the mind againft e'very inftance of vice: 
And if we allow thefe things to be intro- 
duced too often, or engrofs too grent a 
part of our converfation, " we are in 
" eminent danger by conjlant exercife, and 
** the incouragement fuch topics of dif- 
** courfe will probably meet with from 
** the fpleen and ill-nature of the world, 
** of contradling an habit of Scandal.** 

Let us, then, keep our tongues Jrom 
evil J and our lips that they fpeak no guile. 
In (lead of employing ourfelves in de- 
famatory and difgraceful accounts of our 
neighbour's imperfeBions, let us rather rc- 
folve to change the drain and fubjed of 
converfation, and difcourfe of his excellent- 
cies. Let us make it our budnefs to vin- 

176 Of Slander^ and Defamatiom 

SERM.dicate afperfed innocence^ to reclaim the 
VII. honours due to injured merit, and illuftrate 

V^"^^"^ the dignity y beauty^ and tifefidnefs of virtu- 
ous examples. This muft be a truly ge- 
nerous and noble entertainment J the plea- 
fures that attend it mull: be infinitely more 
iblid and durable, than any that can re- 
fult from mean ill-natured offices of Scan- 
dal ; and it would withal, were it a cuftom 
univerfally followed, be a Hiong fpur and 
incentive to virtue. Let us endeavour to 
difcountenance, on all occafions, the ma^ 
licious Slanderer, the envious Detrad:or, 
the intermeddling vagabojid Tale-bearer ^ 
;as the bane oifriendftnpy and difturbers of 
the public peace. *' A fieady refolution^ 
*' in this refped, would go a great way 
" tQ\V2iVdiS fupprejjing a practice, that is too 
" fhameful to fupport itfelf, and grows 
.** bold and licentious only by being <*//- 
** couragedy There are innumerable to- 
pics to fupply an innocent ^ chearful, im- 
proving converfation, and fome of the 
highell importance with regard to our 
duty as men, and our eternal hopes as 
Chriflians : And therefore if any for want 
of materials^ and to fill up void /paces, 


Of Slander^ and Defamation, 177 

take refuge in Scandal^ it muft argue a Serm. 
pitiful poverty of genius and a mcft con- VII. 
iradled under/landing. 

But, above ail, let it be confidered, 
that \i frothy vain difcourfe, which leaves 
an impure tincture behind it, and if it be 
made a too frequent entertainment will 
beget an habitual levity of temper, be 
highly criminal ; we (hall be able to find 
no excufe, hereafter, for reviling^ difdain- 
July contumelious fpeeches, or propagating 
falfe and injurious Jlories concerning our 
brethren, " If we plead impertinence, it 
" can furely be no extenuation of our 
** guilt, that we have trijied in affairs of 
** the greateft importance, and [ported 
" with our neighbour's happinefs. Should 
" we urge, in defence of our freedoms 
" ufed with particular charad:ers, that it 
" was only to try the acutenefs 2iTid force 
" of our wit ; will this be of any avail, 
" that we have facrificed, to fo poor a 
** pretence, the obligations of brotherly 
*' kindnefs and of common equity f And as 
" for envy and malice , the too ufual 
** fprings of Defamation, they are among 
** the blackeft vices, and themfehes deferve 

Vol. IV. N " damna- 


Jam. i. 

178 Of Slander^ and Defamation* 
Serm. " damnation." Let us no longer, there- 
fore, by any of thefe methods of unjuft 
and groundlefs cenfure, violate the tie of 
humanity, and the exprefs law of God : 
For if any man among you feemi to be re^ 
ligious, and brtdleth 7wt his tongue^ but 
deceiveth his own hearty this mans religion 
is vain. And we are aflured upon the 
higheji authority^ which as Chriftians we 
acknowledge, even that of our bleffed Sa- 
viour himfelf (reinforcing the eternal laws 
of reafon and of God) that by our words 
Matt. xii. we JJoall be jujiijied^ and by our words wc 
Jhallbe condemned. 




of Covetoufnels, Envy, and 

Exodus xx. 17. 

'Thou jh alt not covet thy neighbour s 
houfe^ thou Jhalt not covet thy 
neighbour s wife^ nor his mafZ" 
fervantj nor his maid-fervant^ 
nor his ox^ nor his afsy nor any 
thing that is thy neighbour s» 

Y this commandment, we are Serm. 
§ very clearly and diftindly in- Vill. 
^v..^ x'.-M formed who is our neiMour, 
L^'^Wy'lSsS in the fenfe and right con- 
ftrudtion of the Mofaic law. Reafon im- 
mediately fuggefts^ that it mufl be every 
N 2 man. 

i8o Of Covetouf?ufsy E?tvy^ 

Serm. man, with whom we are allowed to hold 
VIII. any correjpondence^ and who is within the 
reach of our good or bad ofBces; becaufe 
the bond of common humanity is the 
jirfi and mod indijjoluble obligation, into 
which all accidental affinities, all more 
narrow and contracted afTociations, muft 
be refolved, and there ultimately center ; 
and becaufe the right of every man, and 
his claim to juftice and beneticent offices, 
is equals and unalieiiable from humanity 
itfelf. Chrijlianity informs us, that as the 
contrary do6trine is abhorrent to nature, 
it is no lefs inconfiftent with religion. 
We are therefore plainly taught, efpecially 
in our blefTcd Saviour's account (whether 
it be only a parable^ or a true hiftory) of 
the good Samaritan J that the love of our 
neighbour is only another phrafe for the 
love of all mankind ; the intercourfe of 
whofe friendly offices ought never to be 
fuperfeded by ihe mod inveterate national 
prejudices^ nor by the errors and corrupt 
tions of a falfe religion. " The fuppofed 
" Heretic^ the Apoflate^ the Pagan ^ the 
** Mahometan^ mu 11: by us be regarded irt 

" the 

and Difcontent, i^i 

** the fame light, as the Jew was by the Sep m. 
** Samaritany Vlii, 

And the Jewijh law, however pervert- 
ed by the jnorojhiefs and four pride of the 
difdainful and fupercilious Pharifee (who 
built his religion upon the riiim of nature) 
had the fame large and generous views. 
For thy neighbour^ in the intent and mean- 
ing of the text, muft be every mail with- 
out exception ; unlefs it was only criminal 
in a Jew to covet the wife of one of the 
feed (^i Abraham^ but not the wife of ^ 
Q entile : Which is fo grofly an ur.ieafo^ 
nable and partial fcheme of morplity, that 
none of the remains of thjit people, how- 
ever prejudiced, will, I am perfuaded, for 
the honour of Mofes, think it proper to 

maintain it.- It farther appears, upon 

a general view of the precept itfelf, that 
all the laws of the decalogue ought not 
to be confidered as political inftitutions j 
becaufe this relates to the difpofitioJis and 
habits of the mind, which in the nature 
of the things, mufl be exempted from the 
cogfiizatice of merely civil laws. And 
finally we may ealily fee the reafon why 
Chrill, in his account of the command- 
N 3 mentSj 

l82 Of Covetoufnefs^ Envjy 

S ERM. mcnts, has fubdituted in the place of thou 

VIII. Jhalt not covet Thoujljalt love thy Jieigh- 

Mm.x'vc.^^^^ ^i thyfelf becaiife *' where there 

*9' ** are no ungoverned appetites, no crimi- 

*' nal defires, the current of iiniverfal be- 
" nevolence will expand itfelf, and flow 
" free and unconnned ; and, on the 
*' other hand, a fincere affeBion to man- 
** kind in general, and co?icern for their 
" happinefs, will extirpate the vtxy feeds 
" and fir/i principles of every unfoci a I ^nd 
** ungenerous pailion." Let us now pro- 
ceed to confider what thofe vices of the 
tnind are, to which the text peculiarly 

And, in the first place, wh^t is com- 
monly known by the name of covctouf- 
nefs muft be one of the principal things 
included. As the world is dow conftitut- 
ed, to deiire wealth and affluence as a 
fubordinate good, with a becoming fub- 
mijjion to the wifdom of providence, and 
jn fuch a manner as is confident with 
preferving the reSiitude of our minds, with 
the attainment of our fupreme happinefs^ 
an4 the dutip pecefTarily refulting frorn 

and Dif content. 183 

focietyj this, I fay, has undoubtedly no- Serm- 
thing criminal in it : But when wc pro- VIIL 
pofe thefe things as our ultinmte end, or ^^^^^^ 
coniider them as points in any degree 
ejjential to our happinefs, our way of 
thinking is become extremely bafe and 
fordid, and our deiires are irregular, wild, 
and unnatural: Becaufe, 

In the firft place, all true happinefs is 
feated in the mind\ and fo far as it depends 
on outward and accidental advantages, it 
can neither be fubftantial nor durable. 

Again, the greateft abundance of riches, 
which we can imagine any man to be 
poflefsed of, will not exempt him from the 
common misfortunes and calamities of life; 
nor render the afflidions which he fuffers, 
^in any meafure of comparifon, fo tolerable^ 
as natural firmnefs and flrength of mind, 
equal paffions, and a habit of chearful fe- 
renity and quietude will do in much more 
indigent and deprejfed circumftances. It 
will neither corre5l the peevifhnefs of his 
temper, nor lejjen the inward difturbance . 
that is occafioned by his pride and anger^ ! 
nor mitigate the remorfe and infupporta- • 
ble horrors of a guilty confcience. So 
N 4 that' 

184 Of Covetoufnefs^ Envy^ 

Serm. that he who enjoys the calm pkafures of 
VIII. virtue, in a low condition, is an inexpref- 

^"''^''^ fibly happier man, than another can pof- 
fibly be, in the midft of the greateft ple7ity 
and pofnp of weahh, who has reafon to 
be dijfatisfied with himfelf, and is a Jlave 
to an indulged and forced appetite, as 
anxious and turbulent, as it is mean and 

We may proceed one ftep farther, and 
add to this, ih2Li fuperjluous wt^Xih^ unlefs 
it be employed in adts of beneficence and 
jympathizing mercy^ can contribute fcarce 
the leaji proportion to the real accommo- 
dation and repofe of Human life. For 
when a man has provided for the necejji- 
ties, 2iX\di proper conve7iiences J of his prefent 
being, all befides is, in a juft and wife 
eftimate, ufelefs, and, as Solomon rightly 
and unanfwerably argues, there is no good 

J ^"^ ^ ■ ^* to the owner thereof, fave the beholding it 
with his eyes. It can ferve for nothing 
but ofientation, and a more eminent difplav 
of vanity, which the unthinking and un- 
experienced are apt to adfnire, but the 
judicious and confiderate have always de^ 
jpifed, But though riches are fo wretch- 

and Difcontent, 185 

cdly defeBive in the eflential point of com- S erm. 
municating happinefs, they bring an ad- VIII. 
ditional load of cares along with them, '"-OP^ 
and occafion, often- times, moft intricate 
and perplexing difficulties. How they are 
to be expended^ how feaired^ how improv- 
ed, are fubjedls of deep and uneafy fpe- 
culation. And what upon the whole can 
be more extravagant, than for mankindy 
whofe proper di [crimination from mere 
animals is reafon (they being in moft other 
refpe<5ts inferior, and lefs difiinguified than 
the brute creatures) what, I fay, can be 
more extravagant in men, than to facri- 
fice their health, their eafe, and too fre- 
quently their virtue for a fliadow, a di- 
ftant vifion and dream of happinefs, which 
they may never actually pojfefi j or if they 
poffefs never enjoy-, which, in fruition, 
cannot yield half the pleafure with which 
it deludes and flatters in the expcBation ; 
and may, befides, fpoil their tempers and 
corrupt their integrity, and fo be, upon 
the whole, a real evil, and juftly to be 
deprecated. For St. Paul has obferved, 
according to the natural train and courfe 
pf things, and upon the experience of all 




186 Of Covetoufnefs^ Envy^ 

Serm. ages, that they that will be rich, fall into 
VIII. temptation and a fnare, and into ma7iy 
i^l\^\Joolijh and hurtful lujis, which drown men 
9- in dejiru5fion and perdition. 

Once more, an eager and impatient 
deiire of riches, which farther demon- 
flrates that it is contrary to nature, is refl^ 
lefs and infatiable, and perpetually torment' 
ing. " For fuch defires not being the 
** refult of reafon, but of dif content, fancy, 
humour (the varieties of which are infi- 
nite) they mufl be 2\vJ2iys growitig upon 
us ; and carry us on, from one purfuit 
** to another, in an endlefs circle o( vex-^ 
** ations and difappoiiitmentsy He that 
endeavours to make the be^ of every con- 
dition, takes the only way to be tolerably 
eafy in a world that is fo fnbjedt to rota- 
tions and vicifltudes, where the fcene is 
fo often {hifted, and fo fuddenly too, that 
the utmoft Human ikill and forefight can- 
not prevent it : And if he is thoroughly 
repgned to the conduct of providence, 
this will moderate and fet bounds to his 
defircs. But if he wants this principle to 
balance his mind, and keep it fixed and 
fonftant to itfelf j if he forms itnaginary 


and D if content. 187 

notions of happinefs, and \% fretful, and Serm. 
repining foi want of things that are quite VIII. 
out of his power; he is never likely to 
be at eafe^ or to have his intemperate ap- 
petites gratified. This holds true in all 
cafes, but more efpecially with refpecfl to 
the dfire of fuperfluous wealth, which 
ought always to be purfued with mode- 
ration I " Otherwife, as it is not an or/- 
" ginal paflion in Human nature, but 
** arifes from a wrong judgment of things, 
** and a light unfiahle temper, there is 
*' nothing to put a Jiop to its inordinate 
** cravings, or to hinder its proceeding 
" without meafure^ and without endV 

In the last place, no man can doubt 
but that it is a moft perverted ftate of 
Human nature, to be fo flrongly intent 
on obtaining riches, as to flick not even 
gt injuftice and inhujna?iity , in order to 
fecure them. For this is a 'violation of 
fundamental laws of nature, which are 
upon all occafions whatever indifpenfable. 
And to fuppofe that God has endued us 
with any natural propenfity to fuch an w«- 
benevoknt felfip behaviour, is to reprefent 
him, in truth, as an enemy to virtue, and 


1 88 Of Covet oufnefsy Envy^ 

Serm. the encourager and patron of iniquity. 
VIJI. << Whenever we ad; in this manner, we 

^^^^" form 'Z£;//J fchemes, and, in effed, make 
" a conjiitution and moor Id of owr oi£?;z j 
" we pervert the true ftate and or^^r of 
" things, and throw the world of God'% 
" creating into abjohite confufwn" 

But this, as I hinted before, is but 
one branch of that evil difpofition v/hich 

the text condemns ^The immoderate 

coveting and piirfuit of plea jure ^ and of 
all corrupt and irregular animal gratifica- 
tions, is alfo moft plainly comprehended 
in it J as the fource of many of the moft 
fcandalous and fatal breaches of jocial 
jiifiice and humanity. Animal appetites, it 
muft be allowed, are original to our con- 
ftitutionj which, with their proper bounds, 
are both innocent and ufeful. " But when 
" we make fenfual indulgences the main., 
■' objeft of our purfuit, and prefer them 
" to intelleBual and moral enjoyments j 
" when they unfit us for difcharging the 
*' neceflary bufinefs of life by exhaujiing 
*' our ftrength and fpirits j when they 
" are the means of perverting^ cloudings 
■' injlaving^ our rational faculties ; when 

" ;hey 

and Dif content. i8g 

•* they tend to bring guilt ^nd Jhame up- Serm. 

** on the innocent^ or more dreadful de- Vlil* 

** grees of mifery and hardnefi of heart 

" upon the vicious j and, in fhort, when- 

" ever they interfere with the rules of 

" univerfal righteoufnefs and goodnefs : 

" In all thefe cafes, our natural appetites, 

** which by being corrected and well go- 

*' verned might have anfwered moft wife 

" and beneficial purpofes, become mon^ 

" flrous and extremely prejudicial, and are 

** undeniable violations of that facred law 

** of God, T^hou jhalt not covet r 

For, in the first place, they are di- 
re(flly repugnant to the general complex idea 
and frame of Human nature j in which a 
rational principle is appointed to prefide 
over the fenfitive^ and dire^ all its mo- 
tions and impulfes. 

Again, as God \% fupremely excellent, 
and pofTeffed of abfolute and immutable 
perfedlion, it muft be the chief excellency 
of all reafonable beings to refemble him j 
and in proportion as they cultivate their 
internal faculties, and improve in virtuous 
and good difpofitions, they advance in 
true honour and dignity ; and the more op^ 


I9<^ Of Covetoufnefs^ En^y^ 

SzRM.poJtte they are, in their temper and the 
VIII. qualities of their minds, to this moft love* 

^^^1^^ \y and adorable Being, the more do they 
debafe their ftate, and render it 'vile and in- 
famous. But the utmoft imaginable con^ 
trariety to the perfect nature of God is, 
when we are fo addidled to fenfuality^ as 
to have no tajle for thofe refined and 
tranfcendent pleafures which are peculiar 
to intelligent orders. — " Man then ceafei 
" to be that noble and ufeful being, which 
" God made him -^— He ceafes to be 
" diftinguiflied and raifed in the creation 

" His fchemes are narrow Q.ndi Jelfifi^ 

" a bafc private pleafure is \\\sfole occupa* 
" tion, the public good is negleBed and 

" ^violated Nay, he renders himfelf 

** much meaner than the brutes who are 
*' fenfualifts from necejjity^ being incapa- 
" ble of the pleafures of reafon and reli- 
** gion ; v^,'ho are not injurious to others 
** of the fame fpecies ; who obferue and 
" follow nature's laws; and offer no violence 
" to any fuperior faculties." 

Add to thisj that when men have con- 
traded fuch a low turn of mind, as that 
they are dewted to intemperance and im- 

and DifconUnU 191 

purity, they muft of neccflity be indif-SERM» 
pofed for exercifes oi devotion and pleafing VIIL 
contemplatiom of God : For by fenfuality ^"^"^'^^^^ 
the mental powers are enfeebled and broken^ 
and we become, by degrees, utterly in- 
capable of every great and generous im- 
preffion. And nothing can be more un- 
natural, than the charadter of the wlun- 
tary and felf-corrupted fenfualift in this 
refpedt likewife, viz. his preferring carnal 
pleafures, which are the moft empty 
vain, and worthlefs that a reafonable be- 
ing can purfue, to thofc of virtue, which 
are pure and fublime ; which neither fa- 
tiate nor decay, but, on the contrary, enter- 
tain and delight in all emergencies : Since 
they are not derived from any circum- 
ilance without us, that is, in its own na- 
ture, arbitrary, tranfient, and mutable^ 
but fpring from the eternal reafon of things 
which never alters, 

I NEED fay but little, after what has 
been already offered, concerning the ex* 
%rhitant coveting of diftindion, prehemi- 
nence, and worldly grandeur j becaufe 
every one muft perceive that many of the 
general reafon ings, already made ufe of, 


192 Of Co'Vetoufnefs^ Envy^ 

^ERm. are equally applicable to this as to fen-» 
VIII. fuality or avarice, I (hall therefore oriXf 
obferve, that the mere outward pomp of 
greatnefs has nothing of folid happinefs in 
it, however it may qffe^ and tranfport 
weak or depraved minds j and that though 
powery when rightly employed in fuccour- 
ing the innocent opprefTed, and vindicat- 
ing the natural rights and Hberties of man- 
kind, is a public blejjing^ and of extenjive 
fervice to the world ; yet when it is abuf- 
ed to rigor and tyranny, it evidently pef^ 
verts the wife fcheme of providence, and 
contradidls the rule of God's fupreme and 
univerfal dominion, in which even infinite 
power is never exerted, but under the di- 
rection of perfcdt wifdom, righteoufnefs, 
and goodnefs. If any one therefore is 
influenced by ambition^ let the objedt of 
it be real and not imaginary dignity ; let 
him take care to improve in noblenefs and 
generofity of temper j and demonftrate, 
to all with whom he converfes, that he 
is truly greats by defpifing^ inftead of eagerly 
coveting, the gaudy trifies of outward 
{hew and oftentation. 


iand Dif content. 193" 

Thus have I largely confidered whatSERM. 
It is, that is more exprejiy cenfured and VIII. 
prohibited by the tenth commandmeht. ^-'^"^'^"^ 

' But there is another thing moil: ob- 

vioufly included in it, though not in di- 
redl terms propofed and reprefented to us, 
and that is Envy j which repines ^ind Jickens 
at our neighbour's happinefs, and muft 
therefore be the fprhig of various inflances 
of inordinate dejire, tending to his difho- 
nour and grievous injury : A vice, than 
^ "which none more unnatural^ as well as 
none of more vialignant influence^ can 
poflibly take place in Human nature. 

!For, in the first place, it is an ex- 
tremely malicious and abfolutely ifihii* 
fnan paflion, " raifed and cherished with- 
" out any provocationy The perfon, 
againil whom it is exercifed, has done 
me no wrong to excite my refentment. 
His fuperior merjt does not, in reality, 
detract from mine. I am no lofer by his 
enjoying the happinefs, at which I inward- 
ly murmur ; nor (hould I gain any folid 
advantage by his being deprived of it. 
So that there is lefs to be pleaded in ex- 
cufe for envy^ than for many other ^ which 

Vol. IV. O arc 

194 0/ Covetoufnefsy Envy^ 

Serm. are juftly ranked amongft the moft infd' 
VIII. tnous and detejlable^ excefles. Even Re» 

^•^'""^^^^^ ijenge, one of the blackefl paffions of the 
foul, may urge, as its foundation, inju- 
ries either real ov fuppofed -, but the crime, 
which I am now arguing againfl, is ill- 
will to thofe who have never offended us, 
and who are, perhaps, ready to perform 
for us all kind offices of humanity and 
friendfhip ; and confequently is a moil 
corrupt and vile difpofition ; and impof- 
fible, by any ftretch of invention, to be 
reconciled with that benevolence and uni- 
verfal good-will to mankind, which is 
an inviolable duty of religion. St. Paul 
therefore in his admirable defcription of 
chriftian charity, among many other ef- 
fential and excellent properties of, men- 

I Cor. tions this as one, that it e?ivieth not.- 
'^' ■*' Again, this vice is not only cool and deli» 
berate malicioufnefs, indulged to the pre- 
judice of our neighbour's peace and honour^ 
but a conflant uneafinefs and torment to 
itfclf. For as long as there are any who 
enjoy greater advantages, or are raifed to 
fuperior diftindlion ; as long as there are 
miy appearances of happinefs which the 


and Difconteitt, 195 

icnvious man wants, he is fure to be filled Serm. 
with anguifli and difquietude. It muft VIII. 
be a mofl deplorable circumftance in a^-^^^*'''^ 
man's condition, when the whole world 
cojtfpires, as it were, againfl the peace and 
comfort of his mind. But thus it is where 
Envy prevails -, all manki?id being intent on 
Jjurfuing their own happinefs, according 
to their feveral inclinations, tempers, and 
profpe(^s ; and, when they cannot obtain 
ficbftantial content^ affcd:ing by a fpecious 
and deceitful outfide to hide their inward 
diftrefs and perplexity. " And it is pof- 
" fible, that Envy may fometimes have 
*' this mod exqiiijite torture attending it, 
" to be difpleafed and out of conceit with 
" itfclf, and repine at the more calm and 
*' placid ftate of a benevolent and friend- 
" ly mind." So that it corrupts our relijh 
of the true enjoyments of life, it preys 
upon the fpirits^ and, in Solomons phrafe, 
is the rottennefs oj the bones ; making the prov. xlv^ 
body itfelf wafte and pine away, through 30'. 
perpetual peeviQinefs and anxiety. And 
the wijdom of God is eminently confpi- 
cuous in conftituting Human nature in 
fuch a manner, that fo ignominious^ bafi^ 
O 2 and 

196 Of Covetoufnefs^ Envy^ 

Serm. and mifchie'vous a paffion fhould carry ifs 
VIII. nece[j'a7'y plague and pimiflmient along with 

it. -^ And as it is neither Jutted to 

" the Jlate of man here^ nor Jit for the 
" abodes of the bleiled hereafter (the high^ 
" eji Je lid ties of which, as they are wor^/ 
" and facial^ Envy is not capable of re- 
" h{hing) nothing remains, unlefs the 
" fubje(5t of it could have this grace al- 
" lowed him, to be totally annihilated 
" and expunged from among the creatures 
** of God, but that it be configned over 
" to thofe gloomy and difmal manfionSy 
" from whence Jriendlinejs and joy are 
" eternally baniflied." 

Let me only add, that the objeSl of 
this mofl degenerate paffion varies ac- 
cording to men's particular fentiments, and 
fchemes of life ; " fome envying the rich, 
*' a few the wife, fome the great and 
" honourable, others the gay and fantajlt^ 
" cali" Upon which account it muft fre- 
quently happen, to the everlafting fcandal 
of this vice, that it will fix on things 
- difhomurable to Human nature, and of 
very injurious confequence. " And in- 
** ^ttd^^zs^ignorance2^\A pride are generally 

" the 

and Dif content, 197 

" the root from whence it fprings, it is not S e rm. 
*^ at all to be wondered at, that it appears VJII. 
** blind^ full of extravagance^ and irregu- 
'■ larly and capricioiiJJy diverfified." 

But I difmifs this topic, and proceed 
to the LAST particular which I in- 
tend to mention, as included within the 
'view and fcope of the text, and that is 
Difcontent ; an almoft univerfal dtjlemper^ 
and the parent of the far greater part of 
thofe njoild and unlawful covetings^ which 
are fo injurious to our neighbour's inte- 
reft, and therefore, by the exprefs autho- 
rity of God, forbidden. We are not in- 
deed to afFe(5t a fullen flupidity^ that is 
infenfible of the deprefiions and calamities 
under which it is our misfortune to labour, 
and generally proceeds from an untraBa^ 
ble Jiubborn fpirit ; nor are we to give way 
to an indolent temper, that never reflcBs^ 
and therefore is but little imprejjed by any 
changes that happen in our condition. 
But it is Q\xx flriSi and inviolable duty in 
every flation, however low and difconfo- 
late, to maintain an honourable opinion of 
the condudl of Providence ; and being fa- 
tisfied that all its determinations are, up- 
O 3 ©a 

198 Of Cevetoufnefs^ Eftvy,^ 

S.ERM. on the ivhole, the wifejl and beft, to aC" 
VIII. quiefce in them without a repining thought, 
or injurious afperfion. It is our JlriM z/z^ 
'siolable duty to moderate and controul our 
defires, and fuit our temper to our cir- 
cumftances ; to be free from anger and 
an over-follicitoiis perplexity ; from an un- 
manly dejedednefs and defpondency ; from 
envy againft the more fortunate j and eve- 
ry degree of that diforder and turbulency 
of mind, which will infpire de/igns, and 
put us upon attempts^ to alter our condi- 
tion by fuch methods, as religion^ equity^ 
and honour conflemn. Thefe, I fay, are 
ever to be held by us as moft holy and im- 
mutable ties. For either God hath a right 
to govern us, and difpofe of our affairs as 
he fees fit j or we are entirely lawkjs artd 
independent. The latter is abfolutely im- 
polTible, while the relations of Creator and 
f.xt2Xw:^ fubfift \ and the confequence, there- 
fore, is felf-evident, that inftead of giving 
way to Difcontent, we ought to bear our 
lot, whatever it be, patiently, and improve 
it to the beft moral purpofes, that we may 
fuftain our character with propriety^ and 
merit the approbation of our judge. 


and Difconfent, igg 

Let us confider, farther, that there Serm. 
are wife reafom for thofe intennixture^ of VIII. 
profperous and adverfe occurrences, which ^^^'V^s^ 
are found in iXiQ general fce?ie of Human 

life. —That as thofe, efteemed the moft 

happy ^ meet with dij appointments and un- 
eajy incidents of various kinds j fo the 
jnofl unfortunate have a much greater 
proportion of good than others are apt to 
imagine, or than they themfehes^ too in- 
tenfely poring on the dark fide of their 
fituation, are generally dlfpofed to appre- 
hend. That numberiefs evils, which 

they fuffer, are not the cffiginaj, immedi- 
ate and nccelTary, fcheme of things fettled 
by the wife and gracious Author of Nature, 
but fpring from inconfideration^ rajlmefi^ 
intemperate pafjlon^ or a dljiemper^d fancy ; 
(Either from the indifcretions and vices of 
the fufferers themfelves, or of thofe with 
whom they are linked together in a fo- 
ciety of clofe and mutual dependence ; nei- 
ther of which can be fo far reftrained^ as 
to prevent their producing their natural 
effedls, without continual and inceflant mi* 
racks ■ ' and that thefe conftitute the 

Q 4 ^^^g^fi ' 

200 Of Covetoufmfi^ Envj, 

Se r m. largeft jhare of the evils that difturb anci 
VIII. moleflHuQian life ; fpr which the Cr^/z^(?r. 
is no: r.c all anfwerable ; they being a ma- 
nifeft con tradition to his original plan^ 
and the laws ejlablijhed for the moral 

Several other arguments may be 
fuggefted, to prevent criminal Dif content 

in every Jlation. As that the original 

dejires and appetites of nature are eafily 
fatisfied j and the evils men ^re moft com- 
monly fo impatient under, being the pro- 
dudl of thoughtlelTnefs, pride, luxury, 
and excefs, may, by the help of cool re- 
jleBion and 2ijieady refolution^ be in a great 
meafure repaired. — That it is the height of 
folly to repine at Jixed and unalterable law§ 
of nature, or at any crof$ events which 

it is not in our power to reBify, That 

}iow grievous foever our diftrefs may be 
at prefent, however coijfujed or intricate 
our condition, it is poflible that, in this 
unfettled and revolving flate, it rnay in 
time be altered, by the general friendly 

courfe of nature, in our favour. That 

\Xi our mofl abjeSl fituation we enjoy, per- 

and Difcontent. 2Gi 

Jiaps, iomt bkjjings^ which thofe, whomSERM. 
we are difpofed to e?ivy, are entirely de- VIII. 
prived of, and which are preferable to all ^-<^VN^ 
the fuperjicialj but more glarings advan- 
tages of their outward plenty and fplen- 

dor. And, finally, that humble rejig" 

nation and confidence in God alleviate the 
cares of life, and are an eminent fupport 
and aid under the heavieft fuiierings. 
Whereas an unquiet, agitated, difcontented 
temper is not only indecent^ and a difgrace 
to our character as men^ but impertinent and 
ufelefs. For, by murmuring againft the 
difpenfations of Providence, neither the 
evils we fear will be prevented^ nor thofe 
we adually feel removed, or in the leaft 
mitigated^ but rather increafed and height- 
ened by the di [order and iftquietude of our 
minds. Nor will it be any relief to us, 
in fuch cafes as thefe, to have recourfe to 
indireB methods, in contempt and defi- 
ance qS. juftice^ for the gratification of a 
prevailing paflion, or x\\Qfupply of urgent 
wants i becaufe this is only /Jjifting the 
fccne of mifery ; and exchanging out- 
ward, temporary, and perhaps imaginary 


20 2 Of Covet otifnefs^ Envy^ 6cg. 

Serm. infelicities which may be endured, for the 
VIII. remorfeful pangs and convulfive terrors of 

S^"^'^^^ guilt : Which, unlefs reajon and every 
moral fentimefit be extinguifhed within us, 
inuil be a burden tnfuppor table. 

The great importance of difcourfes on 
this^ and other moral fubjedts of the fame 
kind, appears clearly and moil forcibly froni 
the following palTages in our bleffed Savi- 
our's own divine miniftration ; with which 

I fliall conclude— And, behold one came 

and f aid unto him. Good majler, what good 
thing Jha II I do that I may inherit eternal 
life f And he /aid unto him, — if thou wilt 
enter into life keep the commandments. He 
faith unto him, which "^ fefus faid, T^hou 
/halt do no viurder^ thou fialt not commit 
adultery y thou Jlmlt not Jleal, thou fiak 
not hear falfe witnefs, honour thy father 
and thy 7n other, and (in the place — of thou 
fjalt not covet, is added, becaufe, as was 
obferv'd before, unfriendlinefs and malig- 
nity of temper is the fource of all cri- 
minal and hurtful defires) thou flmlt love 
thy neighbour as thy/elf — This do, a?jd 
thou JJjall live. 



.The true Ground of the Argument, 
from Reafon, for a future State. 

ECCLES. ix. 2. 

^//things come alike to all. There 
is one event to the righteous and 
to the wicked \ to the good and 
to the cleany and to the unclean ; 
to him that facrijicethy and to him 
that facrijiceth not : As is the 
goody Jo is the Ji7iner ; and he 
that fwearethy as he that feareth 
an oath, 

HIS obfervatlon of Solomon isSERM. 
the ground of one of the ftrong- IX. 
eft arguments, that the hght of ^•'^V^**^ 
nature fuggefts, for a future ftate; in which 


204 Th^ Gromtd of the 

6 E R M. there will be a more remarkable diftlndlon 
IX. made betwixt good and bad men, than 
the fettled confiitution of things, and the 
general laws of nature, which take place 
in the prefent fcene of our exiflence, will 
poflibly admit of; and a more adequate 
and impartial diftribution of rewards and 
punifhments. liht force of this argument 
has been almoft univerfally admitted, as 
having its foundation in fenfe and expe- 
rience : And it muft be allowed, I think, 
to carry with it the utmofl (hew of pro- 

babihty, as long as it is fuppofed that 

there is in nature an eterftal difference be- 
tween virtue and vice ; that mankind are 
fubjedl to a moral government ; and that 
the fupreme being, to whom they are ac- 
countable, is unchangeably wife^ righteous^ 
and good. 

But we are too apt to deflroy, in ^ 
great meafure, the weight of our own ar- 
guments, by pulliing matters to an ex- 
treme. We attend only to the fingle point 
which we have immediately in our view, 

without confidering that truth is a 

conneBed and uniform fcheme, and, in all 
the parts of it, perfedly correfpondent and 


Argume?2t for a future State, 265; 

harmonious that arguments which Serm. 

contradiBy muft of neceflity defiroy, each IX. 

other And that we cannot take a more ^v^^ 

furc and efFet5lual method to demoHfli that 
very fabrick, which we are moft fond of 
raifing, than by building on inconjljlent 
principles. And, if I miftake not, fome- 
thing of this inconfiftency too plainly ap- 
pears in the reafonings of mankind, con- 
cerning the natural rewards of virtue, and 
puniHiments of vice, in this life^ whea 
thefe reafonings are applied to different 
purpofes : By which means, juft as much 
as they gain in one argument, they lofe in 
another^ perhaps, equally important ; and 
either the caiife of virtue itfclf is injudici- 
oufly expofed, or, elfe, the statural m- 
dencei of a future /late of retribution are 
obfcured and diminifhed. 

Thus we find, that if the point to be 
proved be the immutable diJiitiBion be- 
tween moral good and evil ; if the pro- 
feffed dcfign be to evince and difplay the 
efTential and intrinfic excellency of the 
former, and 7naligfiity of the latter ; then 
the reafoner is apt to expatiate, without 
a fufficient guard, on the prefejit rewardi 


i66 Hoe Ground of the 

Serm. of moral reditude, 2ind punifiments o£ Cvi 
IX. and impiety, as if both the one and the 

^'^^'^^ other were, in moft inftances at leaft, 
real^ conjlaiit^ unavoidable. " A proper di- 
*' jftlndiion is not made between the ten- 
** dency of virtue, and the adiual confeqnen- 
" ces of virtue." Thefe are confufedly 
mixed and blended together, as if they were 
precifely the fame idea. Virtue is incau- 
tioully reprefented as if it was, infaB^ its 
own reward ; and vice as if it waSj infaSl^ 
its own punifhment. And by thus exag- 
gerating the pleafures of the one, and the 
miferies attending the other, beyond truth'^ 
and, in a variety of caules, againft experi- 
ence y by defcribing what only would be 
the natural rejult of both, if many una- 
voidable accidents did not intervene, as 
their certain and fieccjfary effedls ; and by 
fuppofing, moreover, that the Providence 
of God frequently^ and even in common 
cafeSj interpofes in an invifible but extra- 
ordinary manner, to proted:, fupport, and 
favour the upright, and, on the contrary, 
to bring calamities and difgraces upon the 
workers of iniquity : By fuch miftakes, I 
fay, and confus'd reprefentations as thefe, 


Argument for a future State. lioj 

the true condition of Human life is confi-SERM. 
derably difguifed j it \\2isjew marks left of I^* 
its being an initiatory fcene, a flate of ^^^""^ 
probation and difcipline, and much more 
of the appearance of a flate of recompence, 
and compleat fcheme of moral govern- 
ment. — *' For the more clearly we can 
" trace rewards and puni(hments aSiually 
** annexed to virtue and vice here, it will 
" probably be imagined, that there is, in 
** proportion, the lefs ground to expedt 
** the di fir i button of them hereafter,'* 
Or if this (hould be thought, by the more 
confiderate part of mankind, not to con- 
clude ahfolutely (as indeed in reafon it could 
not) againfl a future flate of more equal 
^ndfull retribution, the proofs of this im- 
portant dod:rine would, however, be more 
perplexed and intricate ; fcepticks and infi" 
dels might take occalion, from hence, to 
grow more licentious and infolent; and 
weak minds would be the more eafily be- 
wilder'd, and lofl in a maze of uncer- 

But there is another error, the oppojite 
extreme to what I have now been fpeak- 
iag of, which is much more common ; 

« and 

20 8 72^ Ground of the 

Serm. " and that is aggravating the mifenes ci 
IX. " good men, and defcribing the circum- 
ftances of virtue and piety as quite dij- 
** confolate and forlorn in this Hfe, in order 
" to (hew, in a ilronger light, the ne- 
*' ceflity there is of fuppofing it intro- 
** daSfory to another.'* And this, tho' a 
grofs miftake, and, as I fhall hereafter 
demonflrate, of vaflly injurious confe- 
quence, is founded, among other falfe 
grounds, dn fome perverted pailages of 
fcripture ; and particularly on the alTertion 
of Solomon in the text, that ^//things come 
alike to all', and that there \so?2e event to 
the righteous, and to the wicked, Solomon's 
premifes, from whence this coriclufion is 
drawn, are undeniably right ; but the 
inference itfelf has no mahner of relation 
to them, and is entirely wild and unnatural. 
For this great and wife writer was only 
difcourfing of thofe external events that 
happen, according to eftablifh'd and hi- 
therto unvaried laws, in the ordinary courfe 
of nature and providence. He intended 
nothing more, than that the fovereign 
ruler of the world did nbt, in general, 
think it fit to interpofe miraculoujly , in 


Argument for a future State, 209 
order to prevent that pronufcuoui diflri- S erm. 
bution of good and evil, which, in vari- •''^• 
ous cafes, muft fpring inevitably from the 
original conftitution and frame oftheuni- 
verfe. And as to what are the natural 
and probable confequences of virtue and 
vice, together with the influence which 
they feverally have on the happinefs or 
mifery of the Human race, thefe are points 
to which he could have no view at all, 
becaufe they are abfolutely remote from 
the defign and fcope of his whole argu- 
ment : Which was only to prove, that 
there is no way of knowing, certainly, good 
or evil by any thing that is before us ; be- 
caufe fuch is the difpofition of things, in 
this probationary flate, that the fame events 
happen indifcriminately, from fixed and nc- 
teffary laws of nature 5 and may be brought 
about by different, nay by quite oppoflte, 
caufesj and the very fame natural good 
and evil, which are oftentimes occafioned 
by moral good and evil, mufl: frequently 
alfo, with refped to us, be accidental and 
entirely unavoidable. 

How fond foever therefore men may 
be, to fupport a favorite fcheme, of engag- 

VoL. IV. P ing 

2 1 o ^he Ground of thi 

Serm. ing Solomon on their fide, they can never, 
IX. with the leaft colour of plaufibility, ftrain 
the words of the text fo far, as to make 

them fpeak this fenfe- ^" that thtplea" 

" fures of virtue and vice are equal j and 
" that, if we exclude the confideration of 
*' futurity^ the pious man has no advan- 
** tage above iht profane y nor the benevo^ 
" kfit man above the malicious and cruel^ 
** nor he who carefully governs his tem- 
*' per, and enjoys the blefling of<:oo/and 
'* regular paffions, above the dilTolute and 
*' uncontrouled libertiney This, in- 
deed, itfelf is going a prodigious length j 
it is, to the common reafon of mankind, 
an unaccountable ftrain of extravagance j 
becaufe it afTerts that to be the plan and 
defgn of providence, and the prefent real 
ftate of Human nature, which not only 
contradids univerfal experience, but is m 
itfelf abfolutely impoffible. For as virtue 
and vice are, and muft be, an eternal 
oppofition to each other ; and confequently 
as the pleafures, which immediately flow 
from fuch inconfiftent and repugnant prin- 
ciples, muft of neceffity be not only of a 
diftin(5t, but of a contrary ^ kind : From 


Argument for a future State. 2\x 

hence it certainly follows, that if the one Serm^ 
deferve to be purfued, the other ought for IX. 
the fame reafon to hQjhmified and neglec^ 
tedy if the one be 72oble and excellent y the 
other muft be bafe and defpicable. " The 
" fame kind of external advantages may 
^* indeed, in fome inftances, happen to be 
" procured both by a ftridtly moral, and 
*' by an irregular and unfair , practice ; 
*' but to imagine that there can, upon the 
** whole, be an exa5i equality between tlie 
*' pleafures and benefits arifing from both 
*' of thefe, is to fuppofe this mofl flagrant 
" abfurdity, that the effeBs may, in every 
** circumftance and every degree, be the 
*' fame, where the caufes are not only 
" quite different, but have a dired and ir- 
" reconcileable contrariety in their very 
** nature." So that if we attempt to efta- 
bllfh a fundamental article of religion on 
fuch vifionary and romantick fancies, on 
principles like this, which confutes and 
dejlroys itfelf, we fave the i?ifidel the trou- 
ble, of undermining religion by his own 
art and fophiftry, by doing the work to 
his hands j becaufe, as we build without a 
P a; foiin* 

212 The Ground of the 

^"ERM- foundation^ the fiiperJlruSture nlufl iinfc 
IX. and fall of courfe. 

^^^^ *' Othersj therefore, being fenfible 
" perhaps of this error, and yet fearing 
" that the yielding the argument, in point 
" o^ natural happinefs to the eaufe of vir- 
" tue^ will invalidate their restfonlngs for 
*' a future flate of retribution, have a- 
" voided thtinconfijlencyy but by increafing 

" the abfurdity" By afferting, that if 

the term of man's exiftence is confined to 
the prefent life, the virtuous are in general^ 
and excepting only a few fingular and emi- 
nent cafes J of all perfons the moft unhappy, 
— " A flrange pofition; that, one w^ould 
" think, none who had ever known what 
** it was to gratify an irregular appetite 
*' on the one hand, or who had ta/ied the 
" refined and fubftantial pleafures of vir- 
" tue on the other, could be capable of 
" advancing and defending;" and which 
a ^^;7^rrt'/confideration of the fubjedt, with- 
out entering minutely into the difcuffion 
of particulars, will be fully fufficient to 

For if it be true, that moral and re- 
ligious men, confidered without the hope 


Argument for a future State. 213 

and expedation oi futurity^ are more mi-SERM. 
ferable than the immoral and impious^ and IX. 
that not only merely in fome extraordi- ^'v^ 
nary cafes, but in the common and regu- 
lar courfe of Human life ; if this, I fay, 
be true, (which every one, for the ho- 
nour of his nature, muft at leafl: isoip^ to 
be falfe) it can only be on fuch principles, 
as will render thofe, who are devoted to 
the purfuit of virtue, more miferable 
than even the brutes themfelves : I fay 
than the brutes themfelves, becaufe no 
other principles can poffibly juftify fo 
flrange an aflertion, but thofe which fol- 
low — T — *■ That fenfua I exceJfeSj if there 
" be no life hereafter, yield a mor^ folid 
** and manly happinefs, than fubmitting to 
" the reftraints of reafon and religion ; 
" that a fecret and fuccefsfuiyr^z/^ is the 
*' fource of truer plcafure, than a flridt 
" adherence to the rules of equity and 
" honour-, and a mean dcgentv3iX.QjelJiJlDnefsy 
" than generojity and univerfal benevolence, 

** -; And if this again be true^ it unde- 

" niably follows, that the pleafures of 

" Jenfe, upon the fuppofition that there 

** is no other life, muft be preferable to 

P 3 " inteU 

21^ l^e Ground of the 

S E RM. " inteUeBual and ?;2or^/ enjoyments j thofe 
IX. « of the inferior^ and lefs noble, to thofp 

^^^"^^^^ <* of the more excellent Sindjublime part in 

" our compofition. And ifio,/en/itive 

*' gratifications muft be always preferable 
" to thofe of a moral nature. For if a 
** life of rea/bn and virtue^ to eternity, be 
" more eligible than a life oifenfe, it muft 
" be fo, in itfelf, in every /)^r^ and period 
^' of our duration J and, on the contrary, 
" if 2.Jenfitive happinefs be, in itfelf, or ex- 
" cepting a few rare and extraordinary 
'* inftances, more valuable than a rational 
** and moral happinefs in afty part of du- 
" ration, it muft, of neceflity, be fo in 
** every part of duration, i. e. to all eter- 
" nity : And the man ought for ever to 
' ** be degraded, that the brute may be 
" exalted." 

Besides, this injurious reprefentation 
of Human life not only involves in it all 
thefe abfurdities, confidered as a fpecula- 
tive error, but is attended with moft per- 
nicious coofequences : Of which, as a fuf- 
iicient fpecimen to {hock a ferious and 
confiderate mind, I need only mention thefe 
jhree. •— ^ That it weakens the principal 


Argument for a future State, 215 

iargument, by which we can pretend toSERM. 
prove, folidly, the difference of moral good IX. 
and evil J which argument i§, ** the na- ^•^'^^^*^'^ 
*' tural tendency of the former^ at all 
" times, to happinefs, and of the latter to 
•" mifery." That it gives an unbound- 
ed fcope to Immorality and vice, where 
men are fo unhappy as not to believe 

another flate of exiftence hereafter 

And, finally, that it leiTens even the argu^- 
ment for a future ftate, which it is in-r 
tended to illuftrate and difplay in a ftrong- 
er light i and, for the fake of which, it 
fo degrades and vilifies the prefent circum^ 
(lances of Human nature, and defcribes 
virtue itfelf as little better than a caprici- 
ous and arbitrary conftitution, -and an 
empty name, 

" For it is, principally, from what 
^* we know of the nature of things in 
■ * thh life, that we can draw jufl: conclu- 
^* fions with reference to their defigii upon 
" the whole, Becaufe virtue, in what we 
♦* fee of it here, appears to have a tenden- 
" cy to happinefs^ we fairly prefume that 
** it was originally defigned for happinefs." 
And as this defign fails of being executed^ 
P 4 very 


2i6 Tlje Ground of the 

OERM. very remarkably m fome inftances, and to 
a confiderable degree in j//, by many un- 
avoidable events, againft which we are un- 
able to guard in the fituation wherein we 
are now placed j we are led to expedt, 
upon the beft grounds of probability, 
that it will be compleated hereafter. " But 
if we had no proof, from our experi- 
ence and obfervation on fads, that vir- 
tue was appointed to be the fource of 
Human happinefs, or, which amounts 
to much the fame, that the ideas of 
virtue and happinefs, have in nature, 
a connexioji with each other j we (hould 
have much lefs reafon to hope, than 
we have at prefent, that the maker of 
the world ifitended it for happinefs in 
any fcene of our exiftence. And if it 
was from itfelf, and from the origin^il 
laws of the whole conftitution, more 
miferable than vice here ; I can fee r^o 
clear medium by which to demonftrate, 
that it would not be miferable for 


Thus have I (hewn how the account 
of the reward of virtue in this lifp has 
been aggra^oated^ in order to demonftrate 


Argument for a future State, 217 

its intrinfic excellence, and how far itSERM. 
has been diminified^ together wich the pre- IX. 
fent punilhment of vice, to heighten the ^^t^^ 
natural evidences of a future retribution. 
And now there only remain two things 
more, that are neceffary to be infifted on, 
to finifh what I intend upon this fubjedt, 
and remove all the material difficukies 
relating to it. The first is, to enquire 
what is the true ftate of the cafe, in oppofi- 
tion to both the extremes above-mentioned ; 
and then to fhew. Secondly, that as this 
affords, on the one hand, convincing evi- 
jdence of the ejfential difference of moral ' 
good and evil, by means of the fanSlions 
annexed to them at prefent ; it alfo leaves 
the flrongeft, and moft cogent, probabili- 
ties of i^y^^/z^r^ more exa<ft and impartial 

The true ftate of the argument, with 
refped: to the natural rewards and punilli- 
ments of virtue and vice in this life, will, 
{ believe, be comprehended under the fol- 
lowing heads. First, that virtue, in 

general, tends to the happinefs, and vice to 
tht mifery, of mankind. Secondly, that 
the happincfs arifing from virtue is of a 


21 8 7he Ground of the 

^"ERM. nobler kind, and more durable in its na-r 
IX. ture, than any that can fpring from un- 

^^^^ governed excelTes. If felf- complacency, 
and felf-applaufe, be principal ingredient^ 
in the happinefs of every intelligent and rcr 
jfleding being, virtue muft tend to happi- 
nefs; and if felf-condemnation, felf-abhor- 
rence, inward diforder, remorfe, and fliame, 
are the necejjary j'prings of infelicity to the 
Human mind, vice muft tend to mifery. 
And the happinefs of the former muft, ir^ 
itfelf, be as niuch more excellent than that 
of the latter, as reafon is fuperior iofenfe^ 
and animal infiinB. From v^hence it 
plainly follows, in the third place, th^t 
fo far as the natural confequences of vir- 
tue and vice are permitted aBually to take 
place, the hallance of happinefs will unde- 

iiiably lie on the fide of virtue So far, 

I mean, as it refults properly 2ind folely from 
thefe two different methods of condud:, 
and is ahjlraBed from all extraneous and 
foreign confiderations. To this, therefore, 
I may add, by way of corollary, " that 
** if we fuppofe the outward advantages 
"' of health, fortune, and the like, to be 
^' exadly egual, the pleafures of the good 

^' mans 

Argument for a future State, 219 

'^ man, even here, may juftly upon theSERivj. 
** whole claim the preheminence'' Befides IX. 
all this, virtue is undeniably necefTary to ^^*^ 
jhe good of mankind in general confiderr 
pd as a community^ 2i fyjlem of creature* 
linked together by focial afFedtions and one 
univerfal intereft^ and, confequently,it muft 
tend to advance the happinefs of every in- 
dividual in his focial character j vi^hich i? 
a very confiderable, and indeed the chief, 
part of the prefent happinefs of man. Sq 
that, in the fifth and last place, we 
may fairly lay down this as the fum 
and refult of the whole, that if there were 
no future life it would flill, in the com- 
mon and regular courfe of things, be the 
interejl of all mankind to be virtuous. 
And even in extreme exigencies, the cafe is 
not fo much altered as may be generally 
imagined. For if a man fecures his eflate, 
or preferves his life, by finful and coward- 
ly compliances, the ftjame of having adied 
with fo much meannefs and dijhonour may, 
to an ingenuous mind, be more intolera- 
ble than tortures or death. " There may 
" be fuch bitter and flinging remorfe, 
[^ where there is no fear of punij%nenty 


2 20 T^he Grou7id of the 

arlfing from a refledllon on the bafenefs 
of adtions in themfelves, as may render 
even an infidel fubftantially and excef- 
** fively miferable." And in this cafe I 
will venture to pronounce, that it would 
have been his happmefs to be inflexibly 
honeft, tho' reproach^ poverty^ and even the 
lofi of life ^ were the certain and unavoida- 
ble confequence. 

And as the fhort and general account, 
which has now been given, proves, be- 
yond all reafonable exception, that there 
is an eternal and immutable y$"/«(?/} in vir- 
tue, and malignity in vice ; fo, which is the 
next thing to be confidered, it leaves the 
flrongeft probability, that can fairly be 
defired, of this great and important truth, 
that notwithftanding the rewards and pu- 
nifhment of moral good and evil that are 
interwoven, as it were, with the univerfal 
conftitution of nature, there yet remains a 
future ftate of more adequate and unex^ 
ceptionable retribution. 

For, in the first place, the evils and 
miferies to which all good men are ex- 
pofed, from the common frailty of Hu- 
man nature and general itnperfeftion of 


ArguMent for a future State, 22 1 

the world, are fufficicntly numerous to pre- Serm. 
vent their being compleatly happy j not- IX. 
withftanding it be allowed, that the plea- 
fures refulting from integrity are vaftly 
fuperior to thofe falfe and polluted joys^ 
which are derived from vice 2indjenfuality. 
Secondly, As virtue in this life can ne- 
ver of itfelf conftitute perfeSi happinefs, 
fo there are cafes fuppofable of intenfe 
pain and fufFering, in which it can hardly 
be imagined to render exiftence here be- 
low, upon the whole, eligible j or, if 
barely eligible, no mark of the divine de- 
light and complacency in virtue j nor what 
would be thought, by any one, 2,fuitable 
reward of it. Should it be here faid, that, 
in the moil: melancholy and deplorable 
circumftances that can be imagined, vir- 
tue will always make a man more happy, 
or rather lefs miferable^ than its contrary : 
I anfwer, that this alone is not fufficient ; 
** but it muft render him more happy, if 
** no other recompence be intended, than 
" vice /i or ever will be in any pfj/ibk 
** circumftances." For if vice be, at any 
time, more happy than virtue, the conclu- 
fion, upon comparing the two cafes to- 

Hi ^e Ground of the 

Serm. gcther whatever they are, can be no other 
IX. than this, " that 'virtue is punifhed, and 
** 'vice rewarded.? 

Add to this, thirClV, that the natu- 
ral good and evil confequences of virtue and 
vice are frequently ohfiru6ledy or evaded^ 
in all which inftances there is, properly 
fpeaking, ito reward or piinifliment at all ; 
and that they are neither fo remarkable iri 
themfelves, nor fo univerfal, nor fo cer^ 
tain in the prefent life^ as may reafonably 
be expected will fupport a firm and fteady 
integrity under difcouragements and op- 
preffions, or counter- ballance the ftrong 
allurements of worldly honour and plea- 
fure : And further^ that there is a great 
variety of cafes, in which the calamities 
of good men are notorious, but the reward 
of their virtue is not feen ; and in which 
the outward advantages, which wicked 
men enjoy, are confpicuoui and exceeding- 
ly remarkable, while the punifliment of 
their vices is entirely concealed and hid from 

public obfervation.- And, in evfery cafe 

of this kind, the man of virtue will be fo 
far from being diftinguiflied by hkfupe- 
rior happinefsy that he will rather appear 


Argument for a future Staie. 2i^ 

to be the miferahk man. And confequent- Serm. 
ly one great end of rewards and punifli- IX. 
ments, if their be no future life, is entirely ^-^v^-^ 
fruftrated, which is this ; to make fuch a 
diftindion between all inftances of virtue 
and vice, as fliall enforce the former, and 
difcourage and reftrain the latter ; as (hall 
excite to the one, and deter from the other^ 
in every kind and in every degree. 

In the last place, notwithflanding 
the provifion of lejfer rewards and punifh- 
ments in this life, yet if they are not con- 
tinuedy and difpenfed more regularly and 
equitably in a future flate, " the moft vir- 
** tuous of mankind will often be the leaji 
" rewarded, and the mojl vicious the leajl 
*' puniftied." I rank thofe among the 
mofl virtuous^ who have taken moft pains, 
and fufFered the greateft inconveniencies, 
for the advancement of religion, and the 
good of their fellow creatures ; thofe who 
bravely fuffer and die in defence of virtue 
and liberty j and thofe among the mofi 
viciouSy who have fo effectually ftupified 
their natural confcience of good and evil, 
as to be abandoned of all fhame and re- 
morfe. The loft of thefe, it is plain, 


224 The Ground of the 

Serm. avoid the worft and mofl dreadful punldi- 
IX • i 

^^^,1^ ment of their vices here^ by being hard- 
ened and infenfible ; and are much lefi mi- 
ferable, if there be no futurity, than fin- 
ners of the very lowejl degree of guilt, 
who are fubjed: to the anxious horrors of 
an alarmed and troubled confcience. And, 
on the other hand, the generous fiifferer 
for truth, and for the welfare of man- 
kind, is lefs rewarded, upon the whole, 
than another of common and far inferior 
virtiit, who has not been expofed to fuch 

rigorous and fevere trials. And is not 

this a demonjiratioriy that there muft be 
another life to redtify fuch prodigious in- 
equalities as thefe ? Does not this certainly 
follovv from admitting the exiftence and 
perfections of God, arid his righteous go- 
verument of the moral world ? Is there 
any medium between the denial of this 
principle and downright atheifm? I think 
indeed there cannot be : And, moreover^ 
that if it be^^if to reward virtue, and pu- 
ni{h vice, in any particular, it muft be 
fit to do it, proportionably, in every par- 
ticular ; and that therefore the reafoning 
here made u^e of plainly and ftrongly 


Arguffient for a future State, 225 

enforces a future ftate not only of y?r/(5?SERM. 
and impartial retribution fo far as it goes,. I^' 
but of univcrfal retribution. This feems ^^f^ 
to be moft confiflent with the ideas of 
fupreme wifdom and goodnefs, and with 
the connmon principles of equity. 

To conclude ; the notion of a Deity, 
without a Providence^ is utterly infufficient 
as to all purpofes of religion and mora- 
lity ; a Providence, with refped: to man- 
kind^ is nothing, without government 5 nor 
governtnent without laws ; nor laws with- 
out liniverfal, certain, and widhX^ fanStions, 
adapted to the e?itire cafe^ i. e. to the ca- 
pacities^ JituationSj dijfficidties and weak- 
nefjes of the fubje(fls, their reludlance to 
obedience, their inward^ whether natural 
or acquired, hiajfes, and their external temp- 
tations to deviate from the rule of go- 
vernment : Nothing of which is here ade- 
quately provided for. The prefent is, upon 
the whole, a promifcuous fcene, of irre- 
gular and confufed appearance j with very 
IndijlinB and imperfect traces of dijlribu- 
tive juftice : It can, therefore, be reafona- 
bly confidered in no other light, than as the 
beginning of the firfl jlep towards, a more 
■ Vol. IV. Q_ perfcA 

2 26 T^he Ground of the &c. 

Serm. perfect rational exiftence, the introduBion 
IX. and path to immortality. OtherwifCj 

^^'^^'^'^ how little, by his vaftly precarious tenure 
of life, is man advanced above iht flowers 
of a day, and the infeBs and animals of a 
few months or years growth, and alternate 
mciflitudes of pleafure and pain ! What a 
trifle is his dignity of nature ! How dimi^ 
nutive his importance and rank in the 
creation ? 



i^^i^"0?^^-O#^-S'^vS.(^.^«C'^^ Oa0'^0 

The Advantages of Confideration. 

Haggai i. 7. 

— Thus faith the LORD of 
Hofts^ Confider your Ways. 

HE duty, here recommend- S erm, 
cd, is of fuch plain and uni- ^. 
veffal obligation, and fo im- ^'V'^*''> 
mediately refults from our 
very frame and conftitution, 
that, one would think, there fhould be but 
little need of tnotives to urge to the prac- 
tice of it. Mankind, in all ages, have 

been particularly fond of the charadler of 

rationaL They feem to talk of it with 

Q^ affeBation^ 

2 28 Tloe Adva?itages 

^'g's.isi.affe6iation^2Sidi in the vno9i magnificent 
X. flrain, as the high prerogative and glory 
of Human nature, its crowning excellence^ 
its refemblance of the Deity, and the grand 
mark of its preheminence above the animal 
creation. And, furely, the leaft that can 
be expedied from all this is, to find them 
employing their rational faculties in the 
purfuit of truth, in directing their con- 
duit, and regulating their paffions : And 
nothing can be more furprizing, than that, 
in defiance of their mofl folemn prqfeffioni 
concerning the dignity of their intelligent- 
nature, they are thoughtlefs and incon- 
fiderate, giddy, rafh, and unexperienced^ 
immerfed in fenfe, guided by fancy and 
appetite ; and, oftentimes, as entirely de- 
ftitute of true judgment, and ferious reflec- 
tion, as if they were naturally void of un- 
derhand in g. 

But yet experience teaches us, that 
this not mere loofe declamation, the effedt 
of peeviflDnefs, refentment, and contempt of 
mankind ; but, in a very great degree, the 
real flate of the world. The encomiums 
they beflow on reafon, which is but fel* 
dom confulted, are empty compliments, the 


of Conjideration. 229 

workings oi feljiflmefs and pride. TheySERM. 
are fond of it as a difiindiion which flat- ^• 
ters their vanity^ and places them in an 
imagined point of eminence ; but negle(5t 
to improve it to thofe valuable purpofes 
for which it was chiefly intended, and 
which alone can demonftrate that it is 
any thing more than a name^ and deferves 
to be called a perfeBion^ or a privilege, 
Ai>d hence it is, that they employ their 
reafon in difficult fpeculations, encourage 
it to grafp at things beyond the narrow 
extent of its capacity, to fpy out, and cor- 
redt, defecSIs in the conftitution of nature 
and courfe of Providence, and cenfure the 
operations of infinite wifdom : But at the 
fame time that, forgetting its weaknefs and 
innumerable errors and prejudices, it - takes 
upon it to defermifie right and wrong in 
cafes that are abfolutely beyo?jd its com- 
prehenfipn, fcarce any ufe is made of it 
within its proper fpherc, viz. to trace out the 
principles and obligations of virtue and re- 
ligion, fix the true rule of life, and judge 
of the nature and confequences of adtions. 
And, by this prepofterous abufe of it, we 
entirely lofe the honour atid all the advafi* 

0^3 ^^^^•" 

230 'The Advantages 

Serm. tagei of our rational frame: For it is not 
X. the mere faculty of reafon, but the right 
exercife and improvement of it, that advan- 
ces us above brute creatures ; and if we 
fuffer it to bp difordered^ darkened^ and con- 
trduled by fenfual excefles, and the influ- 
ence of ungoverned paffions, it becomes 
our greateft reproach and infamy, and 
muft, in the final refult of things, be a 
heavy aggravation of our mifery. 1 in- 
tend therefore, in the follov^^ing difcourfe, 
to treat of the nature, reafonablencfs, and 
eminent advantages oi Con fide rati on ^ chiefly 
as it relates to religion and morals : Of Con- 
fideration, I fay, which is the great law 
of Human nature, the firft principle of 
ivifdom and good conduSf^ and the fpring of 
rejolution^ fieadinefs and a&ivity^ m all the 
duties of life; which will carry ns, with 
fafety and honour, through the moil dif- 
ficult and intricate circumftances ; and the 
want of which will betray us into many 
fatal irregularities, and bring upon us 
jldamCy remorfe, and ruin. 

To confider our ways muil: include in 
it juft general notions of religion, and of 
jDur duty in all its branches, and whatever 


of Cvnjideration, 231 

has a tendency to prepare for all tv&nts^ and S erm* 
make us behave regularly in allpojjible cir- X. j 
cumftances ; and, confequently, a great l-^'VNJ 
variety of rejleSiiom^ befides what relate to 
onv prejhit^ or the examination and review, 
of our paji condud:. Suffer me to point 
out fome of the principal fubjeds, about 
which it becomes us to employ our medi- 
tations ; in order to our ading, through- 
out the whole of life, as men and chri- 

And I fhall begin with that, which is, 
in the nature of the thing, a fundamen- 
tal enquiry j viz. what is the grand intent 
and purpofe of our being, " If we fur- 
vey the world around us, we (hall find 
that every creature, even the mod mi- 
nute and inconfiderable^ is made for fome 
certain determinate end-, and endowed 
with qualities and powers^ particularly 
fuited and adapted to it. And reafon 
immediately didates, that there muft be 
fome efpecial and more exalted end of 
mans being ; who has a peculiar noble- 
nefsand dignity of nature, and, in many 
refpeds, eminent marks o^fuperiority to 
all the o^her parts of this lower creation." 
0^4 Now 

232 The Advantages 

Serm. Now till this be clearly ftated and deter- 
X. mined, the mind will be in perpetual un- 

^^^^^^"^ certainty ; and all its notions, about the 
true rule of life and manners, can be no- 
thing but darknefs and confufwn. Hoiu^ 
then, ihall we adjuft and fettle this ef- 
fential point, on which oar knowledge of 
religion and morality fo neceflarily dcr- 
pends ? Why by examining the Human 
frame, the feveral parts of which it is com- 
pounded, and, above all, what are its cba- 
raBeriftical and diftinguifiing faculties. 
■ ■ Are we formed entirely, or chiejly, 
for the gratifications of the animal life ? 
*' This cannot be, becaufe y<?/?y^ and ap- 
*' petite we enjoy in common with the 
*^' brutes ; and, if we look inisoard, we 
" fhall find reafon, rejleBion, confcience, 
*' which mufl: be the greatefi: abfurdities 
*' and monfters in nature, if they are to 
" be controuled and kept under by the 
*^ inferior pafTions : Every thing above 
'' feJife, and the neceflary ingredients for 
" reliihing the enjoyments of it, mufl, 
^* upon that fuppofition, be mifiapen, and 
«f irregular," And, therefore, as it can- 
pot be denied, that we are capable of more 


of Conji deration, 233 

Juhlime exercifes, of more pure, ful^/lantlalj Serm^ 
and durable pleafures, thefe muft, of necef- X^ 
fity, be the ultimate end of our being : And 
whatever other principles there are in Ha^ 
man nature, which, iffuffered to take their 
courfe, would be tJiconjiflent with this great 
end, it muft be the oflice of reafon, if it 
has any ufe at all, to limit and reftrain. 

Again, Are we formed forfelfipo views, 

to mind only our own affairs, and to be in- 
different and carelefs about \kit general fiat e 
of the world, any farther than ovly parti- 
cular interejl appears to be immediately 
concerned ? " This likewifp is impofible, 
** becaufe we find affediions of a different 
" nature, univerfally implanted in man- 
** kind, and ftrongly exciting to benefi- 

" cence, generofity and compafTion." 

Or was it defigned, that we fhould pafs 
our time in luxurious eafe and indoleiice^ 
and dream away life mfioth and inactivi- 
ty? " At this rate, jnan v/ould be a bcr- 
" ing entirely ufelefs, a kind of blank in 
^* the creation;" which muft be a moft 
deplorable perverfion of his nature, becaule 
he is evidently formed iox j'ociety, and pof- 
fefs'd oi aBive powers capable oi great re- 

234- ^^ Advantages 

Ser M.finement, and advances towards Godlike 
X. perfedion, and of extenjive fervice. — — 
Or, finally, Is the prefent flate the only 
fceneof our exiftence ? Were we intended 
juft to come on the flage of life, to (hew 
what higher attainments we are fitted for, 
and then to difappear for ever? *' The 
** prefent exiftence does not lo&k like an 
** entire fcene^ but rather like the infancy 
'* of Human nature •, which is capable of 
" rifing to much greater jnaturityT And, 
befides, as we are, in our very conftitu- 
tion, inoral and accountable j and, in this 
world, there is fo far from being a jlriB 
and impartial retribution, that integrity 
and virtue frequently fuffer, whilft imn 
piety, oppreffion, and cruelty 2ive Jlourifi- 
ing and triumphant : All our natural no- 
tions of God's wifdom, juftice, and good- 
nefs, afford a high probability, that there 
IS {qxwq future ftatej in which fuch an 
aniverfal and remarkable diftindtion will 
be made between good and bad men, as 
the honour of the divine pcrfedions and 
government feems, necefarily^ to require. 
Thefe are plain and eafy refledions, and, 
withal, of univerfal advantage : And 


of Conjideration. 235 

when, by ferious Conlideration, we are Serm, 
fully convinced that the prefent life is X. 
only preparatory for another infinitely more ^■^"^'^^ 
awful and important ; that there is fome 
general law of Human nature ; and that 
there are certain duties^ which all mankind 
^re obliged to perform ; the next ftep is 
to conlider, more diftindtly, what thefe 
duties are. 

And, here, the reafon of our minds 
will lead us to begin with the duty^ which 
we owe to God. As he is a being of ab^ 
folute and immutable perfection, he muft, 
in general, be the worthy objedt of our 
fupreme veneration and efteem. His in- 
iinite wifdoni and power demand our 
reverence ; his unexhaufted and univerfal 
goodnefs our devout 2,vi^ grateful adoration. 
As he is our Creator, the fountain of be- 
ing and happinefs, our righteous governour 
and judge, and the fovereign difpofer of 
all events, we are bound to cultivate a. 
^rong fenfe of our neceffary depe?idence 
upon him ; to worlhip him with humility 
and fervency ; to be abfolutely devoted to 
}iis fervice j to yield an exadl and willing 
pbedience to his laws \ and acqiiiejce^ with 


236 "The Advantages 

Se R M. the moft calm and profound fubmiflion, 
X. in M the determinations of his Providence : 
And, being a compleat and unfpotted ex- 
ample of all moral beauty and excellence ; 
it fhould be our chief amhition to be like 

Again, we find ourfelves to ftand ;r- 
lated^ not only ^o ihc Jupreme Jirji caufe 
of all, |3Ut to "jarioiis other beings ; parti- 
cularly to beings of the fame rank and 
character ^ formed with the lame pajjions^ 
encompafTed with the fame infirmities^ and 
having the fame cxpeBations and dependen- 
cies with ourfelves; who, all together, make 
up one body of infeparable interefts : The 
next thing, therefore, to be confidered is, 
what are the general duties^ which we owe 
to thefu. And from our original equality^ 
our common nature, circumrtances, and 
wants, there neceflarily refults an univer-^ 
fal obligation to equity, benevolence, and 

But, to difcharge the duty recom- 
mended in the text, we muft go one ftep 
farther than this ; and as there is a vail: 
difference of circumftances and relations in 
Human life, take care to inform ourfelves 


of ConftderatioTi, 237 

what thofe difpofitions are, and what thatSERM. 
behaviour, which are beft fuited to our X-^ 

particular fiuiation and character. Am 

I, for inftance, in exalted and affluent cir- 
cumilances ? Lfet me cwnfider, *' whether 
" it becomes me to be diffolved in effemi- 
** nac)\ and given up to riot and extra- 
" vagaficc, to be infolent and tyramiical^ 
" or afFed: vain and ukXtk prodigality %'* 
or, on the contrary, to be regular and 
moderate in my defires, gentle and eafy of 
accefs, to treat my inferiors with conde^ 
fcenfion and humanity, and employ my 
grandeur, wealth, and influence in adls of 
generous compajjion, in communicating r^- 
lief and happinefs to the poor and mifera- 

ble. Am I a parent f What co/^r/t- muft 

I take to fulfil the obHgations of that 
charader ? " Shall I negleSf the minds and 
" manners of my children, and, by my 
" floth or profufenefs, abandon them to 
** poverty and contempt ;" ox form thQxvi. 
to juft notions of things, injiill into them 
good principles, train them up with a ftrid: 
regard to piety, virtue, and decency, watch 
over them with an affedionate care, guide 
their raih and unexperienced youth by my 


238 The. Advantaged 

Serm. fuperior difcretion, difpofeoi them honoiir- 
X. ably in the world, and provide for them 

^''''"^^^ a comfortable fubfiftence ? " Shall I dif- 
" courage^ and entirely breaky the force 
" and fprightlinefs of their tender fpiritSj 
" by a rough and arbitrary management," 
or cherijh their refolution and a(5tivity, and 
engage them to the love and chearful prac- 
tice of their duty, by a winning affability 

and freedom ? Or am I the majler of 

a family : What are the duties that this 
relation requires ? " Ncit furely to govern 
*■'■ with' rigour and injiexible fe verity, not 
" to leave fervants to the full fwing of 
*' their irregular inclinations, not to de- 
** bauch their natural fenfe of good and 
" evil, and harden them in wickednefSj 
" by a vicious example ; this is both un- 
" chriftian and unnatural :" But to teffi- 
per authority with mildnefs, treating them 
as men^ tho' Providence, for wife reafons^ 
has placed them in an inferior a-hd de- 
pendent ftation, to encourage their good 
defigns, in a friendly manner admonijh 
them of their errors, and lead them .on to 
virtue, to fobriety, peaceablenefs, and fide- 

of ConJideratloH, ^39 

iity, by a conjlant face of religion, juftice, Serm, 
flrid: order, and harmony. X* 

We are to confider farther, in what ^^f*^ 
manner it is proper for us to conduct our- 
felves, that our 'virtues y by being carried 
to an excefs, may not degenerate into im- 
perfedlions and biemiflies j nor the duties 
of religion be made to clafJj and interfere 
with each other : " How, for inftance, 
'* to prefcrve the dignity of a charadier, 
" keep it above contempt ^ and fecure the 
" refpe^ that is due to it, and yet avoid 
" pride and morofenefs ; and to maintain 
" the ballance even between generofity and 
" prudentyrw^j//Vy, that the one may not 
" rife to projufenefsy nor the other fink 
" into a'varice" We fhould confider^ 
likewifej not barely how we may dif 
charge the immediate duties of our re- 
fpedtive ftations, but how to do it with, 
the mojl honour, fo as to recommend re- 
ligion, and render our example amiable. 
For it is very poflible that a man may 
adt his part well upon the whole, and 
yet do it in fuch a difagreeable way, as 
to fall under a great deal of reproach and 
Ccnfure; by which, through the blind 


^4^ ?^^ Advantages 

6 E RM. and undiftingui{hing prejudice of the World, 
X. 'virtue itfelf frequently fuffers : But, oti 
the contrary, " There is in the condud: of 
** others, a condu(5t for the 7nain the fame, 
" and in the fame fcenes of life too, a 
" gracejuhiej's ^iVidi freedom, and a certain 
** nobleneji and ingenuity of temper, dif- 
*' covered, that makes them pime and be 
*' dijiinguified in all the offices ai focial 
'* life." And the confidering thts^ toge- 
ther with the fixing the proper bounds of 
particular virtues, that each may keep its 
place, and not encroach upon the rejl ; a 
right coniideration of thefe things, I fay, 
is one of the principal branches of religi- 
ous wifdom, and, confequently, of the^duty 
which the text enjoins : And there is the 
more reafon that it fhould be diftinBly 
inculcated, as it is the 'very pointy in which 
the generality of mankind are notorioufly 

Another moft important fubje(ft of 
meditation is death, w^hich clofes the fcene 
of our prefent exiftence, puts an end to 
all our worldly projeds, and imaginary 
fchemes of happinefs. There is nothing 
that mankind, in general, have a greater 


cf C&n^deration, 241 

feludance and averflon to. The verySiERM. 
thought of it terrijies 5 and therefore is di- X. 
verted as much as pofiible, as too awful ^^^^ 
and gloomy y to make Way for gayer and 
more Jprightly images : And to this it is 
undoubtedly owing, that fo many behave 
with fo Httlc decency y fo little of manly 
Jirmnefi and courage^ under the immediate 
apprehenfions of it. If, without regard- 
ing the cojifequences of death, we confidcr it 
only as an unavoidahle event, but at the fame 
iimt JJjoc king to nature, it is certainly our 
wifdom to render it intimate and familiar 
to the mind ; that the horrors of it being 
diminished by frequent and clofe converfa- 
tion with it, we may fubrait, with be- 
coming refignation, to the appointment of 
an all wife providence the univerfal law 
of mortality. This will be an unfpeaka- 
ble happinefs to ourfelves in that critical 
hour, when every thing around us has a 
melancholly afpedt, and the fpirits 2Xt faint ■ 
and languid; it is honourable to Human 
nature, and reprefents it in a worthy and 
advafjtageous light 5 it has a natural ten- 
dency to encourage and comfort thofe that 
furvive us, and infpire them with a gene- 
VoL. IV. R rous 

242 The Advantages 

Serm. rous contempt of death. But, on the con- 
X. trary, to be unprepared for what we know 

^^'^'^^^will certainly happen, and, for want of 
due refledion upon it, to meet it when 
it does happen with trembling and confab 
fion, is an argument of weaknefs and pu- 
fillanimity ; it debafes the dignity of our. 
nature, and makes it appear dejpifeahle ; 
it is a reproach to our religiony as if its 
principles were not jlrong enough to fup- 
port us under \ho(t fpecial exigencies, in 
which their influence is moft defireable j 
and, withal, it tends to difpirit others, 
and to propagate and increafe thofe enjla- 
ving fears, which render men abfolutely 
unfit for undertaking and accomplijhing 
many noble defigns, of the utmoft fervice 
to fociety. There is indeed a great deal 
in men's natural make and conftitution : 
Some arc of bold daring fpirits, that fcarcc 
any thing can deprels and controul ; while 
others are of fuch fearful and fufpicious 
tempers, as to be alarmed by every ima" 
gination of danger ; and to fuch, it may 
be next to impoflible to compofe and quiet 
their minds, in the near views of a diflb- 
lution. But certain it is, that if any thing 


of Confi deration, 243 

will enable them to behave, in their laftSERM. 
moments, with tolerable calmncfs and re- X. 
iignation, it is the ufing themfelves to me- ^^^^^ 
ditate on their departure hence, its necef- 

Jity^ and tht folly of repiftifig ov Jlrugglhig 
againfl fix'd and unalterable laws of pro- 
vidence J and, above all, on the glorious 
rewards of piety and true goodnefs in the 
future life, in comparifon of which, all 
worldly glory and plcafure are infignificant 
and trifling. 

But this leads me to mention another 
fubjedt, that deferves our moft deliberate 
and ferious reflecftion, i^iz. the awful con- 

feque7jces of death. Not to contemplate 
thefc, with the greatefl attention and con- 
cern, muft argue unaccountable ftiipidity^ 
and that we are hardened even againfl a 
fenfe of our own true inter ejl. For tht future 
ftate is the only fxed and proper fcene of 
our happinefs or mifery 3 it therefore de- 
mands our chief regard, if we adt merely 
on principles of reafon and common pru- 
dence ; and this life can be but of little 
importance, any otherwife than as, by the 
appointment of the wife author of nature, 
it is conneB^d with and preparatory to it. 
R 2 Be fides 

244 ^^ Advantages 

Serm. Befides our meditating, on the ilatcs of 
X. good and bad men hereafter, will furnifli 
^^^^^*^ us with the moft encouraging motives to 
the pra6tice of religion and univerfal right- 
eoufnefs, and the moft powerful diffua- 
fives from vice and impurity : For we can 
none of us, furely, be fo rajh as to re^ 
folve to perfift in diffolute courfes, with 
fhame and remorfe, mifery and ruin, full 
in our view. And nothing can fo effec- 
tually difarm death of its terror, or ad- 
minifter fuch confolation and fupport in 
the profpedt of it, as this thought, that it 
opens a paffage for us into eternal life, 
and the enjoyment of blcflednefs and glory 

The duty which the text exhorts to 
muft imply in it, befides all this, a fre- 
quent examination and review of our con* 
dudt, to fee how far it has agreed with the 
rule of life, and wherein it has been defeC' 
five-, and whether xS\'t general principles, on 
which we proceed, will continue to ap- 
prove themfelves as right 2iV\di found prin- 
ciples, as often as they 'Jlxq fcrutinifed and 
brought to the trial. There is the more 
need of this, " becaufe pafjion and preju^ 
" dice are apt to infinuate themfelves, and 

" mix 

of Conjideration, 245 

** mix fometimes, infenfibly^ with our rea- Serm. 
" fonlngs upon points of morality : So X. 
" that hajly conclulions, which we made ^^^^^^^^ 
" when we were in a -zi^^r;;/ y^//g-«/;/^ tem- 
" per, and miftook the ilrength of our 
** prefumption for a degree of evidence, are 
" frequently dif allowed by our more corredl 
** and improved judgment." — And befides, 
by taking this method, we (hall approve 
ourfelves to be perfons of a clear and un- 
exceptionable integrity j who are refolved 
to leave no refuges (not even that of igno- 
ranee) in which vice may fielter itfelf, 
and are only concerned for truth and im- 
corrupted manners. 

All the fubjedls, hitherto propofed, are 
proper to employ our meditations as we 
are men : There are fome others, peculiar 
to us as Chriftians. We are obliged, for 
inftance, to confider the grounds of our 
religion, the intrinfic excellency of its doc- 
trines, and the external evidence by which 
its truth and divinity are fupported j that 
we may not be Chriftians by chance, from 
the mere force of cuftom, from an impli- 
cite regard to tradition and hmnan autho^ 
rityy but from judgment and deliberation j 
R 3 which 

246 7>5^ Advantages 

Serm. which diftinguiflies true faith from credu- 
X. Uty and enthuftajm, and is the only thing 
that can render it more praife worthy j tho* 
it may in its confequences be more life- 
fitly than infidelity and error. We are 
likewife to conlider, and examine with care, 
the practical rules that Chriftianity pre- 
fcribes, its precepts relating to piety, juf- 
tice, charity, and temperance, which are 
the perfection, and moft fublime refine- 
ment, of natural religion ^ and the true 
nature, obligation, and moral tendency of 
its fofitive inftitutions. To which we 
mud add the peculiar motives, that our 
holy religion fuggefts, either to the prac- 
tice of virtue in general, or toexcellin any 
particular virtues ; arifing from the clear 
difcoveries it has made of our duty, of the 
pcrfed:ions of God, and, efpecially, of his 
wonderful goodnefs in the redemption of 
mankind, but, above all, the difiinSf ac- 
count which it gives of the future judgment, 
attended with a variety of engaging cir- 
cumftances, worthy the majefly of God, 
and the excellent nature of the Human 
foul, and the whole calculated, in the 



of Conjideration. 247 

higheft degree, to Jlrike and imprefs our Serm.. 
minds. X. 

Thus have I (hewn about what things 
it is necefiary for us to employ our ferious 
refiedtions, and would make this ufeful re- 
mark upon the whole ; that though con- 
iideration always becomes us, and be of 
eminent advantage in all circumftances, 
yet there are certain feafons^ in which it 
is peculiarly neceffary. " As foon as we 
" attain to the due exercife of reajon^ and 
** fet out in moral life, there fhould be a 
" general folemn deliberation, to fix the 
" principles and rule of our condud: ; 
" which being correBed upon proper oc- 
** cafions by our more ripened underftand- 
" ing, and altered fo as to fuit it to every 
" change of condition, will enable us to 
** fteer our courfe aright, and maintain a 
** regular and confijlent character, amidft 
** all the temptations and difficulties to 
** which we arc expofed." Again, confi- 
deration is efpecially neceffary in the 
height of projperityy which has a diredt 
tendency to dijjipate thought, and to ener^ 
vate and fiften the temper ; that we may 
neither behave infolently through our pride 
R 4 and 

248 T^e Advantages 

Serm. and vanity, nor be captivated by the be* 
X. witching charms of worldly /jow/) and luX" 

^•^"V^ tiry. It is neceffary, Hkev^ife, in the fiery 
heat of youth j when the fpirits are fo gay 
and Hvely, and the paflions fo vehement 
and impetuous, that we are in danger, 
Wi'whoiWX. frequent exercifes oifedate and cool 
reafon, of being hurried into great indecen- 
cies. Finally, it is highly neceffary on 
Judden emergencies, in points of jingular 
importance, and in all perplexed and intri- 
cate cafes. Something or other, of this 
kind, muft have fallen within every man's 
experience : And, whenever it happens, 
if through a natural forwardnefs, or too 
fond an opinion of his own abilities, or 
an averfion to clofe thinking, he comes to 
a quick and hajly conclufion ; it may be 
attended with confequences (hameful and 
fatal to himfelf] and very injurious to his 

I cannot think it needful for me to pro- 
pofe arguments, inform^ to prove the rea- 
fonahlemfi of this duty, fince it is, in truth, 
nothing clfe but the exercije of our rati- 
onal powers, the difcriminating property 
and privilege of Human nature, that ad-f 


of Conjideration, 249 

vances man above the lower creatures, Se'^m. 
which are guided hyfenfe and injlinB. X. 

*' So that in the proportion, in which we 
*^ are deftitute of thought and reflexion ^ 
*' we forfeit our humanity^ Nor need I, 
after what has been faid in the foregoing 
difcourfe, expatiate farther on the advan- 
tages of confideration ; on which, very- 
high ly, our fatisfadtion in this world, and 
eternal peace and bleflednefs hereafter, de- 
pend. Every one muft be convinced, that 
the want of reJie5iion is a natural fource 
of vice and diforder, and gives the paf- 
iions an unbounded fcope : For there is 
nothing bejides that Q2SiJlop their career, or 
limit their extravagance. And 2StQ.v fome 
time fpent in irregular indulgencies, which 
took their rife at firft from an inconfide- 
rate and heedlefs temper, the finner be- 
comes more afraid of thinkings for fear 
of alarming confcience, and filling his mind 
with horror. So that all his relief, all his 
tranquillity, fprings from offering violence 
to reafon, and fupprejjing lis friendly admo- 
nitions : The beft he can cxpedl is, to be 
in an uncertain fluduating condition -, be- 
imi^t felf-approbation and dijlike, hope and 


250 Z5^ Advantages 

Serm. defpair, remorfe and jiupidity. Whereas 
X. the great duty of confideration, rightly 

^^''"'^^"^^ performed, will lead us fafcly through the 
dangerous Jnares of life ; and if it docs 
not prevent little failings and indifcretions, 
which are incident to all mankind from 
the natural limitation and weaknefs of their 
faculties, it will, at leaft, fecure from all 
grofs and definitive errors. And, to men- 
tion nothing more, our 'virtues^ being the 
efFedt of a deliberate judgment, will be 
more excellent in themfelves, and more ac- 
ceptable to God ; and the miftakes that 
flill cleave to us after an honeft inquiry, 
and a fincere ufe of means for better in- 
formation, will be the more eafily par- 

Let us all therefore be perfuaded to the 
pracflice of a duty, which is of fuch ab- 
folute neceffity and high importance j and 
declared to be the will of God, in the 
ftrongeft manner, not only by the Prophet 
in the text, but in the very contrivance 
and frame of our nature. Let us confider 
our wayi^ and jhew ourfehes 7nen^ fhew 
ourfelves perfons of true difcretion^ (hew 
ourfelves Chrifiiam ; xhQ prof e for s of a re- 

of Conjideration. 251 

ligion, which has not only preffed it up- Serm* 
on us, as a fundamental obligation, thus X. 
to anfwer the dejign of our intelligent ^^'^• 
frame, but has propofed, to our ferious 
thoughts, the moil grand^ and noble ^ and 
ujeful fubjeds, that the mind of man is 
capable of contemplating. In order to 
this, we muft fhake o^ indolence ^ " which 
** Jir/l deftroys the habit, and, by degrees^ 
** weakens the \tvy faculty of thinkings" 
and not fufFer o\ix pajjiotis to gain too great 
an afcendency over us, which, by excef- 
five gratifications, ** blind and confound 
" the underftanding, and deftroy our re- 

*' lifi of mental pleafures." And may 

the merciful Father ofouvfpirits ftrength- 
en and confirm every good refolution to 
this purpofe j that we may confider and 
know the things that belong to our feace^ 
in this our day^ before they are for ever 
hid from our eyes. 



Of the Sabbathy and the 7noral 
Ground of PubHc Worfhip. 

Exodus xx. 8, 9, 10, 11. 

Remember the Sabbath day to keep 
it holy. Six days jhalt thou la- 
bour ^ and do all thy work. But 
the /event h day is the Sabbath of 
the LORD thy God\ in it thou 
jhalt not do any work : ThoUy 
nor thy fon^ nor thy daughter j 
thy man-fervanty nor thy maid- 
fervanty nor thy cattle ; nor the 
Jlranger that is within thy gates. 


254- Pf ^^^ Sabbath, af2cl the 

For in Jtx days the LORD made 
heaven and earthy the fea^ and 
all that in them is, and rejled 
the /event h day : Wherefore the 
LORD hleffed the Sabbath-day^ 
and hallowed it, 

HIS precept of the decalogue 
was inftituted, with the fame 
general view, as the three 
preceding, /. e. to maintain 
a lively fenfe of the allegiance and vene- 
ration that were Jolely^ and immutably^ due 
to the fupreme Lord over all, by ?ijiated 
and folemn commemoration of the effeds 
of his ftupendous wifdom and omnipo- 
tence, in the whole frame and difpofition 
of nature. From whence it plainly fol- 
lows, that tho* the law itfelf, relating to 
the Sabbath, (hould be allowed to be mere- 
ly pofitivCy or, in other words, not to be 
founded on the eternal reafon and iitnefs 
of things, but to derive all its obligation 
from the authority and will of the legifla- 
tor ; and tho*, in confequence of this, 
its binding force as a divine law may not 


moral Ground of Public U^orpip. 255 

be univerfal^ but limited to particular Serm, 
iiibje(5ts ; yet the end, for which it was XI. 
cnacfled, is undeniably moral, and extends ^"^^^^ 
to all nations of the world equally, and 
to all mankind. So that whatever diffe- 
rences of opinion may arife about the day, 
the prccife determinate time, that is to be 
kept in honour of the infinite and eternal 
Deity, they cannot in the leaft afFedt the 
natural and invariable grounds of public 
worfhip ; the propriety of which, refult- 
ing from principles of public juftice and 
gratitude, from the relation we fland in 
to God, and the dependent ftate of our 
being, is, and ever will be, the fame. 
The firft of thefe therefore is, compara- 
tively fpeaking, a point of inferior con- 
fequence j and to make it an article, that 
relates to the eJJ'ence of religion, borders 
too nearly upon fuperjlition. But the not 
attending public worjhip, or behaving, at 
the time when it is performed, with ;>- 
reverence and an indecent levity, thefe, I 
fay, in proportion to the degree of the 
negledl or the indecency committed, are 
immoral practices j and, as will be here- 
after (hewn, may be attended with moft 


256 Of the Sabbath, and the 

SeRm. injurious confequences to the virtue and 
XI. good of mankind. 

^^^^^ But I cannot, in a difcourfe on the 
fourth commaRdment, confine myfelf to 
this moft ufeful and momentous fubjeft, 
but muft explain the precept itfelf, and 
endeavour to fix diftindly the bounds of 
its obligation. Before I enter upon which, 
I beg leave to give a fhort paraphrafe of 
this ancient law, that the true meaningy 
and ultimate fcope of it, may be the more 
eafily apprehended. 

Remember the Sabbath-day , i. e. ** the 
" day of reji^* (which is the real mean^ 
ing of the word Sabbath, and all that is 
implied in it) remember the day of refi^ 
" which God hath commanded thee to 
" obferve," to keep it holy, i. e. " difli?!" 
" guijhed from all other days as a fejll" 
" val inftituted in honour of him, and 
" feparated from laborious and fervile of* 
" fices." Six days, or " fix days only,'* 
fialt thou labour, and do all thy work : 
«* But thus it is not lawful for thee to do 
*« on the feventh day, becaufe it is the 
« Sabbath of the LORD thy God ;" in ify 
therefore, thou Jhalt not do any work, i, e, 

" thou 

moral Grotmd of Public Worpjip, 257 

" thou fhalt not follow thy bufinefs, norSERM. 

** employ thyfclf in thine ordinary occu- XI. 

** pation, but works of abfolute necefjity^^^ 

*' for the prefervation and regular fupport 

" of life, and a(fls of charity and mercy^ 

*' can never be fuperfeded by any pojitive 

" law ; thefe therefore thou art at liberty 

" to perform : For it Would be mofl ab- 

" furdly rigid and impious fuperftition to 

" make the Sabbath 2l contradi<ftion to 

" iiaturCy and a foe to humanity. But, 

" with thefe necefTary exceptions, the pro- 

*'' hibition is not limited to thine oinm per- 

*' fon^ but reaches to all that are under 

" thine authority or influence j" to thy Jon, 

thy daughter, thy man- fervant, and thy 

maid-fervant, " and, from thofe principles 

** of leiiity and mercy, that utter abhor- 

*' rence of cruelty which true religion al- 

*' ways infpires," to thy very cattle. ^' Nor 

" is the native Ifraelite only included, 

" but twtxy foreigner who is permitted by 

** the laws to refide amongfi: you," the 

fir anger that is within thy gates. Thus 

you fee, that the whole of the command- 
ment itfelf relates to nothing elfe but a 
day of 7nere reft from fecular employment 
Vol. IV. S ' 'and 

258 Of tie Sabh^Lthy and th 

Serm. and bodily labour, without any explicit 
XI. declaration, at leafl in this moft folemn 

^^^^^ exhibition of it, that it was originally con- 
fecrated, among the Jews^ to any other 
or higher purpofes of religion. And I de- 
iire that this may be particularly noted, 
becaufe I fhall have occafion to mention 
it again as a circumftance of great weight, 
to jujlify the almoft univerfal pradice of 
Chrifiiam in not folemnizing the day of 
the Jewijh Sabbath. 

And this general idea of the principal 
view and fcope of the precept is not at all 
contradided, but rather moft evidently 
demonftratcd to be the juft and true idea 
of it, by the rea/on afligned as the ground 
of the appointment of this holy feftival. 
For infix days the LORD made heaven 
and earth, thefea, and all that in them is, 
and refted the feventh day (" not as if his 
" omnipotence, which could have framed 
" the univerfe in an injlant as eafily as in 
*' ten thoufand years, was fatigued, and 
" flood in need of a relaxation ; this, I 
*' fay, cannot poffibly be the fenfe of the 
" expreffion ; it muft therefore only mean 
" that he ceafed from creating on ^^ fe- 

" v.enth 

^oral Ground of Fiihltc Worpnp, 259 

** ijenth day, every thing being already Serm. 

*' compleatly executed , according to the XI. 

" exadt model which his infinite wifdom ^^^^^^^ 

•* had contrived : ) " Wherejorey " not 

" becaufe there was any necejfary connex- 

** ion^ in the nature of things, between 

" his having finillied the works of crea- 

" tion \vifix days, and the rehgious cele- 

" bration of the feventh as a day of rtfl -, 

" but to anfwer a valuable purpofe, which 

" might fitly take its rife from hence, he 

** did, by pojitive inftitution, and an a(ft 

" of his fupreme authority" blefs the Sab' 

bath-day, and hallow^ or fandlify, it. 

The fubftance of this command plain- 
ly relates to the landification of the Je- 
venth day, and of that alone. And the 
reajbn by which it is enforced neither is, 
nor can pojjibly be, an enforcement of any 
thing elfe, but of an obfervation of the 
f eve nth as a day of facrcd reft. For, moft 
furely, God's rejiing the feventh day can 
be only an argument to reji the fame day, 
according to the order which we obferve 
in our computation whatever it be j " and 
" not for our refting on the^r/?, fourth, 
" fixth, or no determinate day within the 
S 2 " jeven." 

26o Cy //5^ Sabbath, and the 

Serm. " y^w;/." So that if this law be flill /;/ 
XI. force^ our ncgleding ih^feventh, and con- 

^^^^^^^ fining our focial worfhip of the Deity to 
the firj}^ day of the week is altogether 
unjuftifiable. It is therefore of great im- 
portance to enquire how far the obligation 
of this law extends ; whether to mankind 
in general -, or to Chrijliam in particular, 
as acknowledging the divinity of the Mo- 
saic difpenfation, and the authority of the 
books of the Old T^ejiament j or whether 
it terminated only in the Hebrew nation. 
The laft of thefe I apprehend to be the 
cafe 5 and fliall endeavour to prove that 
it is neither an uiziverfal law, nor a ne- 
cefTary branch of Chrijiian duty, to re- 
inemher the fenjenth day of the week to 
keep it holy. And in what I have to offer, 
I thall proceed in a regular and gradual 
method, that every part of the argument 
may be the better underflood, and the 
whole appear in its true light. 

In the first place, then, I would 
obferve, that the fourth commandment, 
which enjoins the religious celebration of 
the /event h day, *' is not a part of the 
*' moral X^N^ For if fo, there mufl be 


moral Gromid of Public JVorJlAp, 261 

an indlfputable reafon, In the ahftrabi na- Serm. 
ture of the thing itfelf, which diftinguiflies X^* 
this day from all others ; and a reafon 
too, that may be wiiverfally known with- 
out the help of revelation ; becaufe points 
of unchangeable morality are thofe onl)\ 
which are difcoverable by natures light, 
and would have obliged all mankind, if 
they had not been made the fubjeds of 

any particular laws. But will any one 

pretend to fay, that the fanclijication of 
xht feve?ith day would have been a necef- 
fary duty of religion, if God had never 
interpofed and commanded it to be fand:ified ? 
Or, that it was a duty originally^ and aU 
ways^ obvious to every human under- 
flanding ? Or that the moO: remote Hea- 
then nations, amongft whom no traces 
can be found of the Mofaic account of 
the creation of the world, were capable 
of finding out, merely by their rea/on, 
that in fix days the LORD made heaven 
and earth J and that therefore the feventh 
mufl: be a holy fabbathy devoted to the 
folemnities of religion ? Thefe things are 
furely too abfurd to be aflerted ; and yet 
they ought not only to be aiTerted, but 
S 3 plainly 

262 Of the Ssihath, and the 

Serm. plainly demonflrated^ as the only pqffible 
XI. foundation on which it can be admitted, 
that the fourth commandment relates not 
to a matter of injiituted and alterable^ but 
of moral and eternal^ duty : /. e. It muft 
be demonftrated, tho' it be almoft in 
terms a contradi^ion, that tho* the reafm 
afTigned, for the appointment of the Sab- 
bath, could never have been known but 
by the help of revelation^ yet the duty of 
obferving the feventh day, which is en- 
tirely grounded on this naturally undifco- 
'uerable reafon, might have been found out 
by the bare unajjifted faculties of the Hu- 
man mind. Whereas, on the contrary, 
nothing is more felf^evident than this^ that 
where there neither does, nor can^ appear 
to be any ground of obligation, no obli- 
gation either does, or can, Jubji/l. 

But perhaps it will be faid, that 
wherever the reafon afligned for the fanc- 
tification of the Sabbath is plainly pro- 
pofed, its moral and univerjal obligation 
may from thence be fairly deduced. How 

I aik does that appear ? God's refling 

from the work of creation, on the feventh 
day, is an expreflion moll manifeftly7%"«- 

rative j 

moral Ground of Public Worjhtp* 263 

rative 'j and can unalterable rules oi mo-SERM. 
rality be inferred £rom Jigures, and peculiar ^^' 
idioms of fpeech ? Reduce it to its plain 
and natural meaning, and it can fignify 
nothing more than this, that the great 
God, the author of nature, created the 
heavens, and the earth, and the fea, and 
the infinite variety of creatures contained 
in them, within the compafs of fix days j 
and therefore of courfe, his vi^hole fcheme 
being compleatly finiihed and abjolutely 
ferfeB^ ceafed from the work of creation 
on the /event h day. But would it there- 
forey if our fupreme governour had never 
commanded it, have been our natural and 
inviolable duty to have kept holy the fe- 
venth day ? What necejfary connexion is 
there in reafon^ abftra(5led from, and in- 
dependent on, the pofitive will of God, 
" between his having compleated the mak- 
'* ing of the world in Jix days, and the 
" religious obfervation of the feventh T* 
And if there be no fuch nece[jary con- 
nexion, as moft certainly there is not, 
the law of the decalogue, which declares 
the holinefs of this particular day of the 
week above others, cannot belong to the 
>S 4 clafs 

264 Of t/je SdhhsLth, and the 

Serm. clafs of moral laws ; the precife notion of 
^r. which is, " that they bind all mankind, 
'' unalterably, on account of their origi- 
" nal lyitrinjic fitnefs, and not in virtue 
" of the authority of the legiflator, and 
*' his exprefs conflitutiony 

1 w^ouLD not be fuppofed, by any 

thing which I have now offered, to in- 

finuate, that what the Almighty and fu- 

preme Lord has been pleafed to affign as 

a reafon^ for his pofitive inflitution of the 

feventh-day Sabbath, was not a good and 

Jblid reafon ; nor does the courfe of the 

argument afford the leafh colour for fuch 

an inference. " For that may be a juil 

*' reafon for his ordaining the obfervation 

*' of it, which would not have been fuf- 

*' ficient to make our voluntary obfer- 

" vance of it, without his dired: command, 

*' an indifpenjable duty of religion and 

" moral piety. There are undeniably wife 

*' reafons for appointing Baptifm and the 

*' Lord' s-fupper in the Chrijiian church, 

" as there were, likewife, for enjoining 

*' the pradlce of circumcifion among the 

*' 'Jews, ; But is the law of circumcifion^ 

'' 01 


moral Ground of Public TForptp* 265 
" or the law of baptifm, upon this ac-SERM. 
** count, to be deemed a moral law ? To 
" aflert this is utterly to confound the 
*' diJlinSfion between moral and pofitive ; 
" and in effect to declare, that all the 
" commands of God, becaufe they have 
*^ their foundation in juftice and wifdom, 
** are equally moral!* This, indeed, is a 
ftrong reafon why pofitive laws (hould be 
flri(ftly and confcientioufly obeyed, as well 
as thofe of a higher nature ; but flill they 
muft be allowed to differ, from laws which 
are properly and abfolutely morale in this 
very material circumftance, that they are 
all repealable. And this is the firft natu- 
ral ftep in our reafonings upon the pre- 
fent fubjedl, and the ground-work of all 
that is to follow, viz. that the precept, 
which enjoined the celebration of the fe- 
venth day as a facred reft, cannot be rank- 
ed among the eternal irreverfible rules of 
morality : From whence thefe confe- 
quences immediately and dire(ftly flow— 
*' That it is not an univerfal law extending 

** to all mankind that its obligation 

** muft of courfe ceafe, when the parti- 
" (pular end ceafes, for which it was in- 

" ftituted 

266 Of the Sabbath, and the 

ftituted and that it may at any 

time be entirely abrogated^ or abrogated 
as to the particular day only, by the 
" fame authority that enaSled it." 

I NOW proceed to another obfervation, 
and that is, that as the fourth command- 
ment has been clearly (hewn not to be 
obligatory as a moral precept ; fo it has 
no force at all at prefent, with refpedl to 
men in general, or Chrijiians in particular, 
merely as it was delivered from mount 
Sinai ^ and made a part of the Mofaic 
conftitutlon j becaufe no laws can poffibly 
oblige any, to whom they were not 
given ; and therefore that law of the de- 
calogue being only enjoined on a certain 
people (who are Jpecially defcribed and cha- 
radterized as a people brought out of the 
land of Egypt, out of the houfe of bondage) 
it can, as fuch, bind 7io other people, no 
other particular perfons befides them. And, 
farther, if any precept whatfoever be of 
prefefit authority, merely as it belonged to 
the Mofaical difpenfation, e^-cery precept 
which was delivered of God to the Jews, 
by the miniftry of Mofes, muft have the 
fame authority. On the other hand, if it 


moral Ground of Public TForJhip, 267 
be not allowed to derive its obligation Serm, 
from its having been anciently a divine -^i* 
Jewijh \2L\Ny it niuft now have no weight '^^^^^ 
at all, but either as a moral precept (which 
we have already feen it cajinot be) or as 
it has been recommended and enforced 
iinew by the Chrifiian religion. 

Here then, in the third place, the 
hinge of the whole argument turns, and 
by this it mull be finally decided. For a 
moral law it is not ; as a law communi- 
cated to the yewi it has no force ; if 
therefore it be not an infiifution of the 
gofpel, there is no imaginable reafon left 
to fupport its obligation ; and upon Chri- 
jiiaji principles, it can, in thefe latter ages 
of the world, be neither a branch of 
natural nor of revealed religion. And the 
mere file nee of the gofpel with refpe<5t to 
it, when it is deftitute of every other 
ground of prefent obligation, muft amount 
upon the whole to much the fame, as if 
it was, in formal and explicit terms, de- 
clared to be totally and for ever abrogated. 

Ther^ are feveral other topics, from 
whence, I apprehend, the fame point 
might be conclufively argued ; which to 


268 0/ ^/^^ Sabbath, and the 

Serm. avoid prolixity, and from the little defire 
XI. I have to engage in controverj\\ I (hall 

but nightly mention. And the first 

is, that the Sabbath^ enjoined in the 
fourth commandment, is entirely diffe- 
rent from what thofc Cbrijlians, who 
maintain the holinefi of the feventh day 
of the week, contend for j their Sabbath 
being a day of religious worJl:ip ; the 
yewifi^ as far as can be gathered from 
the words of the pi'ecept itjelf^ only a 
day of reji. For there is no mention 
made either of prayers^ or moral difcourfes, 
or reading the fcriptures (if a7iy of thefe 
holy books were at that time written 5) of 
which exercifes we likewife find fcarce any 
traceSy in the hiftory of the yews^ till the 
eftabllfhment of their Jjmagogue-'worfiip ; 
which, as I apprehend, was merely a 
prudential, and not a divine inflitution. 
And this day of reft feems to have been 
nothing more than a feftival day in ho- 
nour of the felf-exiftent Deity ; to main- 
tain a reverent fenfe of the maker of hea- 
ven and earth, i. e. of the true and livifig 
God ; this being his charaderiftical dif- 
tindion, in many pailliges of the Old 


moral Gromid of Public TFofpip. 269 

Teftament, from iinfiihflantial and i^ol Serm, 
Deities. So that as the precept does not -^•^' 
appear to have been calculated for the 
purpofes of religmi at large ^ but adapted 
to the ultimate view of the Hebrew con- 
ftitution, which was to guard againfl ido- 
latry i and as j'ervants in thefe eaftern 
countries v^tXQjlaveSj and ufed with much 
greater feverity and opprejjiojz than in mo- 
dern times (upon which account, in the 
circumftances of that age, it might ferve 
peculiar purpofes of humanity as well as 
-piety) it is, at leaft, highly probable, that 
the Jewifli feventh-^d.-^ Sabbath was in- 
tended to be confined to that nation only, 
and not to continue in force^ when the 
public ftate of the world was altered. 

To which we may farther add, that 
St. Faiily in particular, has reprefented the 
religious obfervation of days^ as well as 
the diflindtion between clean and unclean 
meatSy to be quite alien from the free and 
liberal fpirit of Chriflianity j and, confe- 
quently, under that more rational and re- 
fitted inllitution, as a thing entirely need- 
lefs, and an inftance of fuperftitious fcru- 
pulofity. And as he has done this in moil 


270 Of tie Sdhhsithj and iki 

Serm. univerfal terms, without making, or (6 
XI. much as intimating, a Jingle exception, 

^*^'*^''"^ and had an undoubted reference to the 
cufioms of the Jews ; either every day 
which they obferved as hol)\ and of con- 
fequencc iht /event h day of the weel^, or 
no particular day at all muft be included 
in that reprefentation : And then it muft 
be a general remark, which, by allowing 
the exclulion of every particular^ caii 
have no weight or meaning in it. 

But to come to the principal point of 
all, the whole debate is in my opinion 
abfolutely, and beyond contradid:ion, de- 

Coloff. ii. cided by the following paffage ; Let no 

^ ' man judge you in meat, or in drinky or i?2 
refpeB of an holy day, or of the new moony 
or of the Sabbath days : For, in thefe 
words, the following things are moft evi- 
dently either aflerted, or implied. — First 
abfolutely y and without any reftrlSlion at 
all, that no man is to htjudged^ i. e. cen- 
fured and condemned, for not thinking it 
his duty to obferve Sabbath days. ■■ ■ > 
Secondly, that the obfervation of thefe 
Sabbaths was therefore, under the gofpcl, 
a matter of perfedi indifference : For if the 


moral Ground of Public TForpip* 271 

negled of it had been a violation of any Serm. 
command of God i^\\\ fubjijling and in force, XL 
it might and ought to have been condemn- 
ed. Thirdly, the reafon why the 

non-obferver of the Sabbaths, as well as of 
the ?iew moeny was not to be charged with 
irreligion is diftincStly affigned ; viz, that 
they vftxtJJoadowSyOX prefigurations, oi good , 
thifigs to come under the kingdom and go- 
vernment of the MeJJiah, and therefore, that 
kingdom htinga£iually ereded,they muft of 
neceffity give place to the fubflance, which 
they were intended darkly to reprefent-— 
Fourthly, the word Sabbath days is 
an univerfal term, that muft comprehend 
under it every Sabbath which is not par- 
ticularly excepted, or elfe the fcriptures 
and all writings are unintelligible : But 
the/eventh day of the week is not parti- 
cularly excepted, and therefore the folemn 
confecration of it cannot, among Chrifti- 

ans, be a necellary office of piety — I 

fhall add but one thing more, which is, 
that there is the utmoft probability to in- 
duce us to believe, that by Sabbath days 
in this text the 'weekly Sabbath was more 
efpecially intended ; becaufe wherever the 


272 O/' //5^ Sabbath, and the 

Serm. word is uled, it feldom fignifies any thing 
XL elfe in the writings of the New Tefla- 

'■^^'^'''^^ ment j and never once any other of the 
Jewifli Sabbath j and when, in the Old 
Teftament, it is joined with feafts and 
new moo?iSy it has generally the fame im- 
port, and was defigned to fpecify the fe- 
venth'day Sabbath, difiin5l from all others. 
I EXPECT that it will be here urged, 
that the law of the Sabbath is as old as 
the creation, and, of conrfe, mufl be 
diftindt both from the judicial and cere- 
monial laws of the 'Jews ^ that being coe- 
17^/ with Human nature itfelf, it may rea- 
fonably be fuppofed to refpedl all man- 
kind } or, at leaft, all in every country, 
and in every age, who, by the light of 
revelation^ are acquainted with the account 
which Mojes gives of the creation of the 

world To which I anfwer, that it is 

not exprefsly affirmed by Mofes, that the 
Sabbath was inflituted from the beginnings 
and to be obferved by Adam in paradife 3 
but his words are fairly capable of a dif- 
ferent fenfe. What the hiflorian fays {yiz. 

Cen.ii. 3. that God blejjed the feventh dciy^ andJanSli- 
Jied ity becaufe that i?i it he had rcjled from 


^oral Ground of PuhUc Worjhip. 273 

all his worky which God created and made^ Serm. 
may only be by way of anticipation ; and Xl* 
have a reference to a law, that was not 
enadled till fome ages afterwards. This 
would be eafily underftood by that people^ 
for whom the writings of Mofes were ori~ 
ginally and more immediately deiigned 5 
and the thing itfelf is conliftent with the 
flri(fleft propriety of hillorical narration. 
For fuppofe that an earthly prince (hoiild, 
at the diftance of ?7ja7iy years^ inftitute a 
fejlival in commemoration of a lignal and 
grand event j the hiftorian, who writes 
his reign (notwithdanding the injiitution 
did not immediately follo\V the JaB, the 
memory of which was defigned to be 
perpetuated by it) may juftly fubjoin 
a general mention of it to his account 
of the event itfelf; tho' he intends like- 
wife to infert it in its proper place, and 
give it, there, a more minute and fidl 
defcription. And this is not only a poffibi- 
liiy, but feems to be, by far, the moft 
probable account of the cafe, lince in the 
whole hiftory of the religion of the Pa- 
triarchsj nay in all the writings of Mofes 
about events that happened before the 
Vol. IV. T com- 

274 Of the ^2hh2it\ and the 

Serm. commencement of i\\t Hebrew polity, there 
XI. is not fo much as the moft diftant hint 

^^^'"^^^"^ of a Sabbath obferved, or known ; tho* 
after the giving of the law, both MofeSy 
and the fubfequent Prophets, abound in 
paflages either enforcing the obfervance of 
it, or complaining of its prophanation. 
This exadlly fuits with the later date of 
its being originally a Judaical law j but 
is very hard, if not impoffible, to be 
reconciled with its being a law in force 
from the creation. Allowing, however, 
that it was fo, the conclufion, upon the 
whole of the argument, will be much the 
fame. For if the words of St. Paul above- 
cited amount to an abrogation of the fe- 
venth-day Sabbath, as it ftands in the 
fourth commandment, they muft, with, 
equal weight, abrogate this pretended more 
ancient and primitive Sabbath ; becaufe 
both \}l\z fubjlance of the precept, and the 
reafon affigned for it, are precifely the 
fame in both inftances, without any 'uari- 
ation even in the minuteft article. If there- 
fore it has ever been repealed, the Very 
Jelf-fame individual command cannot re- 
gain unrepealed : And to fuppofe, what is 


iHorat Ground of Public TP'orJIjip. 275 

tX2iO.\y x\it fame in all particulars, tobeSERM. 
annulled as it is mentioned in the book ^I- 
of Exodus, but to retain its obligation as it ^^'^' 
is inferted in the book of Gene/is^ is to 
make the fupreme government of almighty 
God a reign of capricioufnefs^ and not of 

But what, it may be afked, is the 

confequence of all thefe reafonings ? 

Is it that we are to allot 7io time for pub- 
lic worfhip ? Are there no public honours, 
no fecial duties, to be paid to the Father 
of mankind, to the fupreme and univer- 

fal governour Undoubtedly there are: 

Nature itfelf directs to it, independent on 
any law of revealed religion, or any ar- 
bitrary or alterable conftitution : And both 
the ground of public worJJjip in general, 
and the reafen of the appointed feafons of 
Chrijiian worfhip, are either immutable 
dictates of nature, or will at leaft approve 
themfelves to the calm and impartial judg- 
ment of all conliderate men. 

For, FIRST, the public worship of the 

Deity is, in the general confideration of it, 

mofl: undeniably of a moral nature ; " or, 

** in other words, the propriety ajid ufes of 

T 2 "it 

276 Of the Sabbath, and the 

SeRM. " it may be argued upon principles of 
XI. «' reafon only, abftraded from all know- 

^^''"^^'^ ** ledge ^ or any fuppofition, of a revela- 
** tion given." 

The worJJjip of God, implying in it 
an acknowledgment of his fupreme per- 
fed:ion, of our neceffary dependence upon 
him, and infinite obligations to him, is as 
much a dictate of eternal morality, as 
are the moft indifpenfable offices of juf- 
iice and beneficence. The one as direBly 
refults from the relations of creatures and 
beneficiaries to their Creator and gracious 
Sovereign, as the other from the mutual 
and indilToluble relations, in which fel- 
low-creatures (land to each other. " It 
** is therefore as^^ for us to unite in acfts 
" of piety ^ as in the fupport of juftice, 
" or the promotion of common good." 

Add to this, that public communities 
and bodies of men, as fuch, are equally 
under the protection and fuperintending 
care of the Deity, as the individuals 
which compofe them. " As colleded in 
" fociety, they are of a difiinB confide- 
" ration from the individual members of 
^* fociety 5 they have diftin(5t wants^ dif- 

" tin<a 

moral Ground of 'Public WorJIjtp. 277 

'* tindl dependencies, diftinft mercies , which S e rm. 
** ought therefore to be dWfeparately, i. e. XI. 
** iny^aW worflilp, acknowledged :" They ^-^'^'^^ 
have publick crimes which demand a pub- 
lic humiliation, and public miferies de- 
ferved, which ought, in reajon^ to be de- 

Ag Am, facial worjhip is a natural means 
of keeping alive a general veneration of 
God, which is one of the principal fup- 
ports of government, and of the external 
peace and order of the world. It feems 
to be, indeed, in a great meafure necef- 
fary to preferve the very fenfe of the Deity ; 
the bulk of the world having either fo 
little inclination, or capacity, or leifure 
for thinking, that, without a public re- 
tnemhrance, God himfelf might not be in 
all their thoughts. For if fo fmall, fo very 
fmall, a proportion of piety be found a- 
mongft mankind, tho' they enjoy, at 
ftated feafons, the advantages of public 
worfhip ; what may we naturally prefume 
would be the confequence (judging by 
the ordinary courfe of things in other in- 
ftances) without this help, but that a 
general ignorance and barbarity would be 
T 3 intro- 

278 Of the Sabbath, and the 

Serm. introduced ? Belides a public unibriy in 
XI. offi'^es of religion, is an honour to it, and 

^'^^^^ guards the worfhip of God in general 
from the attacks of Atheifts and profef- 
ied libertines j who, if it was obferved 
only in fifigle charaSiers^ might the more 
eafily bring difgrace upon it, and banifh 
it out of the world j and, by that means, 
deprive all the focial virtues of their moft 
fubftantial defence ; and fo throw Human 
nature into diforder (defacing all marks 
of its dignity) and Human fociety into 

Let me further add, that the united 
devotion of a whole aflembly has a natu^ 
ral tendency to animate the zeal and piety 
of each particular member of it ; that 
public worship, in which we more im- 
mediately celebrate a common Father, and 
offer reverence and homage to a common 
univerfal Governour, ftrengthensyoa^/ af- 
fedlions, and enforces the principle of 
benevolence to mankind : And all thefe 
ufes, thefe eminent and fignal advantages, 
of focial piety will be, in the main, the 
fame in every fuppofeable condition of 
jnen j whether innocent^ or degenerate \ 


moral Ground- of Public TVorJhlp, 279 

whether with or 'without a revelation jSerm. 
and, confequently, cannot refult from XL 
any mere pofithe appointment, which ne- ^v^ 
cefTarily prefuppofes a revelation, hut muft 
fpring from nature itfelf, and be raifed on 
a moral ground. 

What has been hitherto faid relates 
to the vvoffliip of the Deity, in the flridt 
and proper fenfe of the word. And as 
iox public inftruBions, they are undeniably 
ufeful to fupport the honour of virtue, 
and expofe the malignity of vice, to im- 
prefs an efficacious fenfe of morality, to 
correct public enormities, to fortijy good 
refolutions, to guard again ft the dange- 
rous fnares of life, and explain the un- 
changeable rules of piety and virtue to 

the unthinking and inconjiderate the 

great multitude^ vaftly the majority in all 
nations j *' that they may retain fome- 
" thing INTERNALLY human ^ rational, 
" andy^aW, and not degenerate into mere 
** favages with the external form and im- 
*' prefiions of humanity." 

Should it be fiid, that thefe public 

inftrudions may indeed be very expedient 

for the vulgar 'i but that they are abfo- 

T 4 lutely 

28o Of the Sabbath, and the 

Serm. lutely needle fs with refped: to perfons of 
XL rejleBmtj and more refined thought : I 

^^'''''*'^"^ anfwtr, that this is a diftind:ion, under 
the cover of which, almoft every man 
may excufe himfelf from attending on 
the pubUc folemnities of rehgion. For 
who /i the wife man, if every man is to 
be hts oii)n judge, who will be voted the 
wife man that ftands in no need of moral 
direction, but himfelf^ Allowing, how- 
ever, this plea of vanity to pafs for the 
prefent ; moft certainly, public led:ures 
on piety and morality may bring impor- 
tant truths to the remembrance of the 
wifefi. They may reprefent them in a 
lights in which they themfelves never con- 
sidered them ; and in a light too, that is 
the mofl adapted to their peculiar temper, 
and, confequently, the moft likely to ex- 
cite their good affedions. New thoughts, 
of conliderable moment, may alfo be fug- 
gefted ; no man having the abfolute com- 
prehenlion of any fubjed:. Every one, in 
the prefent Ifate of imperfedion, flands 
in need of all helps to improve his piety : 
Every member of fociety is equally ob- 
liged, whatever his real improvements, or 


moral Ground of Public Worpip* 281 

his own thoughts of his improvements, are, Serm. 
to join in thofe reverent, humble, and XL 
grateful acknowledgments of the Deity, ^>^VNJ 
which are founded on the natural wants 
and obligations of fociety. And, finally, 
his example may influence others, to whom 
the folemn offices of public worfhip are 
allowed to be of ufe 3 and may therefore, 
in its effeBs^ be exceedingly detrimental 
to the caufe of virtue, and the everlafting 
good of mankind. So that this is a tye, 
from which none can rationally plead an 
exemption, whatever his character and 
fituation in the world be, or his proficiency 
in moral knowledge. 

This, which has been already argued, 
is the foundation and fupport of all, and 
what remains will naturally and eafily 
follow. ** For an obligation to maintain 
" public worflilp neceflarily infers, or 
" rather involves in the very idea of it, 
'* an obligation to devote and confecratc 
" fome time to public worfliip." The in- 
ftitution of o)2e day infeven has been found, 
by experience, not to be attended with 
the leaft inconvenience to the rights and 
common interefts of mankind : For if there 


282 0/ de Sahhath, and the 

SeRM. had been any inconvenience, it muft have 
XI. been felt, it muft have been complained 

^^^"^^"^ of in every age 5 but no fuch fenfe ap- 
pears, no fuch complaints have ever been 
made. From whence we may draw this 
certain conclufion, that this is a portion 
of timq, againft which there can be no 
folid exception. On the contrary, the ob- 
fervation of it is fupported, and, I think, 
with great evidence of reafon, by the fol- 
lowing remarks : That one day in feven 
may be moft advantageoufly employed in 
recolleBing ourfelves j and impreffing an 
habitual and lively fenfe of religion upon 

our minds that it is as little^ almoft, 

as can be allowed for the improvement of 
our underftandings and our morals 3 for 
eafe and refrejhment to our fervants ; for 
reft to our cattle ; and, confequently, for 
, fubferving the two grand purpofes of 
piety and mercy ; which are ftridtly united, 
and always infeparable. That the firft 
day of the week, in particular, is recom- 
mended to us, for the celebration of re- 
ligious offices, by Apofiolic example, and by 

that of the primitive Chriftians that 

their colleBions for the poor were made 


moral Ground of Public Worjhip. 283 

upon that day; which feems to imply, Serm, 
that it was the general fiat ed feafon of XL 
their affembHng for pubHc worfhip— — — ^^'^^ 
And, in itfelf, no day could be fo proper 
for the folemnities of Chrifiian worship 
as that of our Lord's refurred:ion, that 
grand and decifive event, on which the 
truth of ChrilHanity, and all the exalted 
hopes and glorious profpedls, which we- 
derive from thence, necelTarily depend. 

I SHALL only add, that in the prefent 
circumftances of the Chrifiian world, if 
men refufe to join in the religious obferva- 
tion of this day, they lay themfelves under 
a kind of neceffity, in mofl places at leaft, 
of negledling public worfliip altogether ; 
by which omiffion, they will not merely 
contradidt the fuggeftions and intimations 
of revealed religion, but (as has been be- 
fore largely fliewn) the did:ates of nature 
and reafon itfelf. 



Religion a confiftent and uniform 

Matth. vi. 24. 

IVo man can ferve two maflers .• 
For either he will hate the onCy 
and love the other ; or elfe he 
will hold to the one^ and defpife 

the other. Ye cannot ferve 

Ged^ and Mammon. 

LL general maxims, HkeSERM. 
that contained in the text, XII. 
muft not only be juftly and "^^^^T^ 
diftindly flated, and by fe- 
rious refle(5tion rendered ha- 
bitual to the mind s but their influence 


286 Religion a conjijient 

Serm. does likewife, in a great meafure, depend 
XII. on their being fairly and impartially ap- 

^^"^^^^ plied to particular cafes that happen in 
human life. If a man examines his own 
condud by thefe rules, with no other view 
than to learn what is right, and with an 
honeft refolution to adhere to it ; they 
will help him, without much difficulty, 
to form a juft judgment of himfelf, and 
to regulate all his errors. But without this, 
he can hope to proceed no farther than 
the mere abjlra^i theory and fpeculation 
of virtue ; which will be of very little 
real advantage to him. In obfervations 
that are not exprefsly directed, nor by a 
proper accommodation fuited, to particular 
charadlers, we are all of us too apt to 
conclude that we have no concern. 

And hence it arifes, that the rule 
which our blefled Saviour has prefcribed 
in the text, tho* it be frequently read, and 
affented to, without the leaft hefitation, 
as containing feme general truth, yet 
makes but a faint, lifelefs, and inejicacious 
impreffion upon the generality of man- 
kind J who would fain perfwade them- 
fclves, that they can, at the fame time, 


and uniform CharaSier. 287 

lay up treafures both on earth and in heaven^ Se R m. 
and render all due veneration and homage ■^"» 
to the Deity, while their affections are ^^^^ 
intenfely and ultimately fixed on inferior 
objeds : As if they thought, that two 
diftindt and oppofite interefts might be 
reconciled and united in their praBice^ 
tho' fuch a union be abfolutely impojjible, 
and a downright contradidiion^ in reafon 
and the unchangeable nature of things. 

Vicious and corrupt exceffes, of all 
kinds, are never fo dangerous^ as when 
they are made to contra(fl an alliance and 
fort of friendfiip with virtue, and in- 
dulged, as it were, upon principle. When 
a man has entirely obliterated his natural 
fenfe of good and evil, and is become a 
cool fpeculative libertine, there is fcarce 
any ground for a rational hope, that he 
will ever be reclaimed from his irregular 
and licentious courfes j becaufe he has loft 
all the natural feeds of piety and moral 
goodnefs, the Jirji and nece/fary principles 
of amendment of life. And the cafe 
feems to differ but little^ if he has fo far 
debafcd his notions of religion, as to fup- 
pofe that worldly-mindednefs and the ex- 

288 Religion a conftjlent 

Serm. travagant purfuits of carnal pleafure afG' 
XII. confijient with it j and has found out a 

^■^"^^"^ way in which, as he vainly imagines, he 
may be a lincere worfhipper and fervant 
of God, while he remains the (lave of 
bafe and inordinate paffions. For, in thia 
inftance, the fenfe of religion which he 
flill retains is entirely ufelefi to him ; it 
amounts to jufl the fame, with refpedt to 
its influence^ as if he was a profefled and 
thorough-paced infidel : And while the 
delufion, of which I am now fpeaking, 
continues, it is next to impoffible that he 
{hould feel in himfelf any one inotiijc to 
reform ; or frame a general intention, or 
fo much as entertain a remote thought of 
it ', becaufe he approves of thofe diforders 
in his temper and condudl, which, unlefs 
they are clearly feen, condemned, and deep- 
ly lamented, mufl remain for ever incurable. 
It is indeed extremely furprifing, that 
mankind who are endowed with reafon, 
and who boaji of their reafon too, fhould 
lludy, and take great pains, not to in- 
form, but to impofe upon their under- 
ftandings, and cloud their inward light ; 
nay, further, that they fhould be mofl 


ahd uniform Character, 289 

fond of being deceived^ and of evading Serm, 
the force of tj'uth in thofe points, that XII. 
are undeniably of the higheft confe- ^■^"""^''"^ 
quence : As if blindnefs of mind, and in- 
fenfihility of danger, were ejpecially to be 
depred in fuch cafes, where an error muft 
of neceffity ho, fatal. Trifling and incon^ 
fiderate creatures ! whofe own condudl 
reproaches and condemns itfelf. In af- 
fairs, in which their worldly intereft is 
concerned, an animal^ groveling^ riiomen^ 
iary, and precarious intereft, they are caii^ 
tious and difident -, but with rerpe(ft to 
religion, a life of reafon and moral recti- 
tude, and the welfare of their fouls to 
all eternity, rajh and credulous. In the 
former cafe they deliberate, and weigh dif- 
creetly, and minutely, every circumftance ; 
in the latter they are either afraid of 
thinking at all, or venture their whole in- 
tereft upon occajiojial and fuperficial re- 
flexions. Thefe, wherever they are found, 
are furely ill fymptoms, and ftrong indi- 
cations of a polluted and diftempered 
mind ; in which not religion and the love 
of God, not the improvement of our 
nobler faculties and fecuring our fupreme 
Vol. IV. U fcli- 

iigo Religion a conjijlent 

Serm. felicity, but the love of the world, and a 
^JI- defire of carnal gratifications, are the pre^ 

>^-y-K^ ^(j;;//;?/2;z/ and goverfting principles. 

But it is yet more ftrange, that man- 
kind fhould fuifer themfelves to be de- 
luded, and infatuated, to fuch an excef- 
five degree, when the general queftion 
to be decided is plain to the mcanefi ratio- 
nal capacity. In the courfe of temporal 
affairs, and the purfuit of a ivorldly inte- 
reft, intricacies and confufions will fre- 
quently happen. The moft judicious will 
be at a lofs how to refolve, and, when they 
have refolved, in what manner to execute. 
Even the very fundamental principles of 

worldly wifdom are im.perfed:. But 

nothing can be more obvious, where there 
is the lowejl meafure of reafon, than the 
grand point which we are now conlider- 
ing, ^oiz, that religion muft be one fimple, 

uniform, charader Nothing can be 

more obvious, than that the harmony and 
beauty of a moral charad:er can by no 
means be prefer ved, if 'virtue and 'vice 
are promifcuoufly blended in it, which are 
diredly and effentially repugnant to each 
other — Nothing is more obvious, than 


and tmiform CharaBer. 291 

the general diftlndions of virtue and vice ; Serm. 
which are clearly difcerned, as foon as XII. 
they are propofed and reprefented to the ^-^^^^^ 

mind And, finally, nothing is more 

obvious, than that it is not the perform- 
ing outward adts of virtue, but the difpo- 
fition and bent of the ?ni}2d to virtue, 
that denominates a virtuous man j that 
not affiduity, and feeming fervent zeal, 
in external offices of devotion, but the 
inward habit and temper of piety, con- 
ftitutes a truly religious man : And when 
either riches or honours are the principal 
objedl of our affedlion and regard, for the 
fake of which higher and nobler purfuits 
are negledted and facrificed ; we may 
juftly be faid (tho' we are pofl'efled of 
Jbme virtues, and abftain from more grofs 
and i?tfamous irregularities) to have that 
cardial mind which is enmity agaiiijl Gody 
becaufe it is not fubjcB to the law of Gcd, 
neither i72deed can be. It is abfolutely im- 
poffible, that two oppojite interefts fhould 
be heartily efpoufed, and ultimately pur- 
fued at one and the fame time i and this 
is the foundation of what our Saviour 
has afferted in the text, that No man can 
U 2 fcrvs 

292 Religion a conjijient 

Serm. fer've two mafiers Te cannot ferve God^ 

XII. and Mammon, 

If we are fubjed; to two perfons, one 
of whom has an ahfolute 2Sid^jupreme au- 
thority, and the other only a dependent 
and limited authority j and if we adually 
ferve the one only Jo far, as his orders 
do not interfere with the will and com- 
mand of the fuperior power, but, in all 
cafes of competition, acknowledge the lat- 
ter alone to have the right of jurifdidion 
over us ; this is not, in the fenfe of our 
Lord's obfervation, ferving two mafters : 
Nor can it, indeed, be confidered in that 
light in the reafon and nature of the thing 
itfelf, becaufe we plainly own but o?2e, to 
whom our obedience is fupremely and iiU 
timately due. If therefore our affedions 
are placed on the prefent world, in a 
way that is perfedlly confijlent with the 
love, refpedt, and fubmiffion, which we 
owe to God, and with the ftrid rules of 
virtue, we are not properly the fervants 
of the world, or of Mamtnon, but of God 
only. If, on the other hand, our concern 
for worldly enjoyments prevails over our 
regard to religion, and makes us negleB, 


and uniform CharaSier. 293 

or diredlly violate^ the unchangeable dutySERM. 
which we owe to our maker, we cannot XII. 
be efteemed the fervants of God^ but of 
Mammon only. And between thefe two 
fuppofitions there is no medium. There is 
no fuch thing fojjihle, as being half world- 
ly^ and half religious ; but either to God, 
or Marnmon, we muft, of neceffity, be 
fupremely and chiefly devoted. The fer- 
vices are in themfelves of an inconfiftent 
nature, and require quite contrary difpo- 
litions J thofe, which religion demands 
from us, being far tco fublime and ele- 
*uated for the worldly mind, which is 
enflaved to mean and grofs conceptions. 
And where this is the cafe, the only 
true God is, in effedt, degraded into a 
fecondary and fubfervient Deity ; and that 
dominion, which is his unalienable right, 
is facrilegioiijly transferred to fenfe and 
appetite. But it will be of great ufe to 
us to examine the fubjedl more at large j 
and, therefore, 

In the first place, I fliall fuggeft a 
few refledions, in order to explain farther 
our Saviour's general obfervation, that No 
man can ferine two majlers : And then, 

U 3 Secondly, 

Religion a conftfle?it 

Secondly J Coniider the cafe, which 
he has brought both as an example, and 
an illuft ration, of the general rule 5 Te 
cannot ferve God^ and Mammon. 

First, I am to iiiggeft a few hints, 
in order to explain, more clearly, the ge- 
neral obfervation of our blefled Saviour in 
the text, that No maji can fcrve two maf-- 
ters. This propoiition, tho' univerfilly 
true, is here confined to religion and mo- 
ral condud: j and the fenfe of it, upon 
the whole, amounts to nothing more than 

this that virtue and vice, religion and 

fcnfuality, reverence and due obedience 
to God, and the gratification of corrupt 
paflions, are things utterly incompatible, 
and that cannot fubfift together. 

The fervice due to God mufir, in the 
nature of things, be fapreme and abfo- 
lute, or there can be 7io fervice at all due 
to him. For ivho is it, that we pretend 

to ferve?- Is i't not ih.Q fupr erne being? 

Is it not the firji^ the ivifeji^ the befi 

of beings ? Is it not one infinitely 

exalted above all ether beings ? Is it 

not he from whom all excellence, all pow- 
er, all authority are derived? And 


and uniform CharaBcr* 295 

what but i\\t Jirfl, the vnoOi exalted^ andSERM. 
Jupreme honours can, with the leall: co- XII. 
lour of reafon and propriety, be offered ^'V"^^ 
to the firft, the moft exalted, and fupreme 
power in the univerfe ? The fervice which 
we owe to him cannot be limited by any 
other authority ; which muft, of necef- 
fity, proceed originally from him. It can- 
not be limited by any principles of rea- 
fon ; becaufe all his laws, being di(5tated 
by infinite wifdom and immutable moral 
redlitude, muft in every inftance be gra- 
cious and equitable. And to fay, that 
the fervice, which we are bound humbly to 
render to the Deity, cannot be limited, is 
exadly the fame, and conveys an idea 
neither greater nor lefs, than the faying 
it is tinreferved and abfolute. And if an 
inferior and fubordinate refped: of the 
infinite creator be really not refpect, but i?2- 
digitity, contempt, and injidt ; if it in effect 
denies his fupremacy, which is effential 
to the very idea of God ; it then un- 
avoidably follows, either that he has no 
right at all to our fervice, or that he muft 
be the idttjnate objedl of it. And if he 
is indeed, of right, the fupreme objedt of 
U 4 our 

2g6 Religion a coitfijlent 

Serm. our reverence and homage; all criminal 
XII. paffions moil be mortified, all vicious in- 
dulgcncies reftrained, and e^-oery interefl, 
that is oppofite to his univerfal moral 
government, fincerely and entirely re^ 

But we may proceed one flep farther, 
and reprefent the point in a Hght fome- 
vvhat different ; and that is, that every 
reajon which can be fuppofed, or juftly 
alleged, for virtue, and obedience to God, 
in any inftance, muft hold equally flrong 
for virtue, and obedience, in all inftances. 
If the amiahknefs of virtue be pleaded ; 
it is, in all the branches of it, lovely and 
beautiful. If it is recommended as the dig- 
nity and perfeBion of Human nature ; 
there can no inflance of it be named, to 
which thefe properties do not effentially 

belong If as the mofl natural fub- 

fi:antial and exalted happinefe of man, and 
of all other intelligent beings ; this cha- 
radter, likewife, may juiliy be afcribed, 
and upon the fame general foundation of 
truth and reafon, to the moral duties of 
piety towards God, the moral duties of 
)ufiice apd henevolengc to pur fellow- crea? 


and un'ifonn CharaEler* 297 

tures, and to all the ftridlly moral offices Serm. 

of fclj^ government fobriety, tempe- XII. 

ranee, and chaflity. In like manner, if ^^''VXi 
the reafon affigned for a particular a6t of 
obedience to God be this, that he is our 
Creator, this reafon muft hold univerjally ; 
or if it be this, that he is our continual 
preferver, our fupreme benefador, and 
righteous governour, this alfo mufl ex- 
tend, equally, to every inftance of obe- 
dience : For if when the reafon is the 
fame^ it does not oblige in all cafes, it can 
juflly oblige in no cafe at all 5 if it be 
not, in itfelf, always a fufficient motive, 

it can never be a fufficient motive. . 

So far then, if the reafoning has any foli- 
dity or force in it, it holds entirely for vir- 
tue^ and abfolutely againfl vice ; or, in 
other words, againft all kinds and degrees 
of vice, and for every branch and degree 
of virtue. 

And, on the contrary, if there are any 
good reafons to juftify difobedience to 
God, and vicious gratification, in one \\\- 
flance, thefe mufl Aiojufiify difobedience, 
and criminal gratification, in all inflances. 
Jf, for example, violent and infiamed 


298 Religion a conftjlent 

Serm. paflions are allowed to plead for It, the 
XII. plea mufl: be of equal weight in every 

^^y^^C^ cafe without exception^ where there are 
the like inflamed and violent paflions. If 
merely the falfe pleafures of Hn, or the 
temporary advantages of fin, are a reafon- 
able motive to the pradHce of it, ihtjiift 
effiCiicy of this motive cannot be confined 
to fingle inflances, but mufl be admitted 
univerfally. And if it be fit at any time, 
or in any circiwiftance, that God fliould 
be difobeyed, he can have no claim to our 
obedience in the leaji point, upon fixed 

and invariable rules of reafon. -As 

therefore it appears, that if right reafon is 
at all on the fide of virtue, it mufl hold 
univerfally for virtue -, or if it be at all 
on the fide of vice, it muft hold univer- 
fally for vice j from hence it neceffarily 
follows, that there' neither are, nor can 
be, any principles in nature, on which 
religion and difobedience to God, moral 
goodnefs and irregular fenfual exceffes, can 
form a conjijlcnt, a jiijiijiable, or even an 
excufable character. And this may fuffice 
for explaining the general propofition con- 

■ ' tained 

aiid uniform CharaBer. 299 

tained in the text, that No man can ferue Serm, 
two majiers. -^*^' 

I NOW proceed briefly to confider the 
particular cafe, which our Saviour has 
propofed as an example, and an illuftra- 
tion, of this general rule j which is thus 
exprelTed, Te cannot ferve God and Mam- 
mon. — To ferve Mammon reprefented 
here, in the flrong and beautiful man- 
ner of the ancients, as a peffon, a mafter, 
or idol- deity ; to ferve Mammon^ I fay, 
when it is Gripped oi figure^ and reduced 
to its plain fenfe, denotes the immoderate 
defire and purfuit of riches ; the being 
captivated and enflaved by what St. yohn 
ftiles the lujl of the eye, fo as to have a 
heart exercifed in covetous praBices j the 
having a mind fo devoted to thefe worldly 
concerns, as to regard no moral obliga- 
tions, no rules of honour or jujiice, when 
they ftand in the way of our bafe and 
avaricious purpofes ; the fufFering the love 
of the world to over-rule the principles 
of generojity and mercy ; or, finally, the 
being wholly immerfed in thefe low and 
unprofitable purfuits, and in them to cen- 
ter our affcdtions, our delires, our fupreme 


Religion xi conjijlent 

and ultimate happinefs. And that this 
carnality and worldly-raindednefs is utter- 
ly inconfiftent with all true religion, will 
undeniably appear upon a little fober re- 
fiedion. In general, the love of the 
v/orld is founded on conflderations entirely 
jenfitive j the love of God on an inward 
lively convi^lion of his amiable moral 
perfedlions j of v/hich, where there is a 
jufl imprefiion, there will be an ardent 
defire to conform to his example as our 
chief honour and felicity, and, of con- 
lequence, a comparative difefleem, nay a 
generous and noble difdain, of every /«- 
ferior good. The low tajie, and bafe 
groveling habits, which are always con- 
tradled by a too intenfe application, by 
an entire devotednefs of mind, to worldly 
objeds, muft indifpofe every man, who 
is thus unhappily funk beneath the dig- 
nity of his nature, both for difcharging 
the rational duties, and relifliing the pure 
and refined pie afiiresy of religion. 

But notwithftanding this many, who 
are fond of their idol, cannot be per- 
fwaded to difcard Mammon, nor bear the 
thought of bidding open and infolent de- 


and tmiform CharaSier* 3 1 

fiance to God\ and, In this miferable per- Serm. 
plexlty, they have no other fliift to have XII. 
recourfe to, but to compound matters be- ^^'^ 
tween God and Mammon. With this 
viev^r they fatter and complimcnty and 
fometimes make prefents to the Deity, to 
footh and molhfy him, and prevail with 
him to indulge them in their favourite 

vices. Vain effort of human folly! to 

attempt to engage the wifeft of beings to 
be as it were a party againft his own laws 
and government ; to confent that the na^ 
tiiral order of things (hould be perverted, 
and \\\Q foundations of i;/r/2/^ undermined. 
No fcheme of this kind has hitherto been 
invented, but what is palpably abfurd, 
and will not, cannot, fland the teft of a 
ferious and fober examination. — - If a 
man, who has gained great wealth by 
fraudulent and unrighteous praftices, de- 
votes part of tht fpoil to charitable ufes, 
or, as in Popift) countries, to enrich and 
aggrandize the clergy, or adorn churches 
What has this to do with religion ? 
Can God be honoured hy fharitig in the 
fruits of opprefjion and rapine ? Will he 
accept of any offerings, that are not re- 


30 2 Religion a conjijlent 

Serm. commended by true repentance^ And carl 
XII. there be true repentance, unlefs the tein- 

^'"^^^^'^ per of the mind be reformed ? Or can 
there be a reformation of the inward 
temper in fuch cafes as thefe, unlefs a 
man finds himfeif prompted to repair 
the injury he has committed, by making 
a fuitable reflitution ? Such an extorted 
devotion as this has not the refemblance^ 
nothing of the air, of true piety j but 
the offender only parts with fome of the 
wages of his unrighteoufnefs (Hke a per- 
fon in a Jlonn) to fave the reji j and that 
he may pofiefs it more fecurely without 
an anxious fenfe of guilt, or fear of fu- 
ture punifliment.— -Again, if another 
man refufes to apply a proportionable part 
of his wealth to the relief of the necef- 
fitoin J if either puffed up v/ith pride above 
the due conlideration of the friendly re- 
gards which he owes to Human nature^ 
or fiupified by indolence, or rioting in 
wanton excefies, he can behold men, like 
himfeif, opprefTed, anxious, difpirited, pi- 
ning away through want, and ftruggling 
hard, under the contempt and calamities 
of poverty, barely to fupport^ for a little 


and tiniform Chaf^aBer. 303 

longer fpace, a wretched and comfortlefsSERM. 

exigence here : If I fay he can look on XII. 

fuch mortifying and affeding fpedtacles, ^-^"^^"^ 

without any relentings of heart, any foft 

emotions of pity and fyjjipatby to 

what purpofe are all the external tokens 

of his piety ? They are doubtlefs infigni- 

iicant grimace, ridiculous oflentation, the 

utmoft intemperance and madnefs of hy- 

pocrify ;. attended with none of the profits 

of it here^ becaufe it is too grofs to de- 

cei-ve, but, moft furely, with the fevereffc 

punifliments that can be thought to be 

referved for it hereafter. For he that loieth ^ John iv. 

2 1 
God muft love his brother alfo : And ivho- 

Jbever hath this worlds goods ^ ajid Jeeth his 
brother have need^ and Jhntteth up his bow- 
els of compajjion from him^ how is it pof- 

lible that the love of God iliould dwell in C^^p. Hi. 

him .? The love of God, whofe autho- 
rity he defies, whofe creatures he infen- 
iibly negleds, whofe example he oppofes, 
whofe goodnefs he is determined not to 
imitate, and muft therefore defpife. In 
thefe, and all other parallel inftances, 
where men are only pious, or, at leaft, 
more affetUdly pious, becaufe they know 


304 Religion a conjijlent &c. 

Serm. that tliey are difionefty iinjiift^ ttncharitd" 
XII. ble ', they not only pradife the moft fatal 
arts oi felf-deceity but make war with re- 
ligion (itfelf as an auxiliary) againft God, 
reaforiy nature^ virtue^ and the tiniverfal 
good of mankind. 



A general Dilcourfe on the Nature 
and Ufe of Prayer. 

M AT T H. vi. 6. 

£/// tioi^j isohen thou prayefl^ enter 
into thy clofct^ and wheit thou 
hajl Jhut thy door^ fray to thy 
Father who is infecret \ and thy 
Father^ ^ho feeth ijzfecret^ Jljall 
reward the openly* 


^^_ N this chapter, we have aSERM. 

M^^^^^f^ continuation of our Lord's -^aaI. 
3Si^! ^ it^'I^ divine fermon on the mount' 
^^^^^^W ^^-^ "which he explains the 
^"^ ^^^ ^*^ moral law in its utmoft ex- 
tent and perfe(ftion j feparating it from. 
Vol. IV, X and 

3o6 A general Difcotirfe on the 

Serm. and condemning, the traditions of the 
XIII. y^ic'j, by which they had made it void, 
' "" ' placing our duty in its true light, and di- 
recting us to the beft^ the mofl rdtional 
and acceptable^ manner of performing it, 
in oppolition to the corrupt doctrines and 
pradices of the Scribes and Pharifees. 

At the fifth verfe, having before ex- 
pofed the pride and hypocrify of their 
almf-givijigs, he condemns their vain and 
oflentatious prayers, their dlfcharging the 
ofiices of private devotion in places of 
chief refort, and in the public view of 
the world ; and cautions every one of his 
difciples againft imitating fuch examples, 
that had fo much the air of arrogance 
and affeBation : But wheri thou prayeji, 
thou fialt 7iot be as the hypocrites are : For 
they love to pray^ i. e. to perform their 
private prayers, ftanding in the fynagogiies 
[the places appointed for public and facial 
worlhlp] and in the corners of the ftreets, 
that they may be feen of tnen. Verily I fay 

unto you^ they have their reward. 'They 

procure the applaufes of the multitude, 
and the reputation of being perfons of 
-extraordinary fanBity^ which is all the 


Nature and Ufa of Prayer, 307 

reward they aimed at, or {hall ever obtain, Serm. 
But, as it follows in text, do thou [as XIII. 
one that doft not court the regard and 
empty praifes of thy fellow-creatures, but 
art only folicitous about the approbation 
and favour of almighty God] do thou, 
when thou prayejl, enter into thy clofef, 
and when thou haft flout thy door^ pray to 
thy Father "who is in fecret ; and thy Fa- 
ther, is:ho feeth in fecret, fhall reward thee 

openly. It is moft evident that our 

blelTed Saviour takes it here for granted, 
** that prayer ^' is a duty incumbent on 
** mankind, and naturally refults from their 
" derived, limited, and dependent ftate.'* 

And indeed almoft all in e'very age, 
who have acknowledged a Deity and a 
Providence, have concurred in the prac- 
tice of it, or at Icaft in allowing it, what- 
ever their own pradice might be, to be 
an important part of religion. They have 
thought it fit, not only by proper fenti- 
ments and affeBions of the mind, but by 
X 2 outward 

* N. S. I confider prayer, in this difcourfe, not alto- 
gether (though chiefij) in the ftridter ccnjincd fcnfe of 
the word ; but in its common and moit fxte?jji've accep- 

308 A general Dtfcourfe on the 

Serm. outward aBs of worfliip, to acknowledge 
XIII. the abfolute perfedtion of the fupreme 
eternal firft caufe, and praife him for his 
excellencies j humbly to own their abfo- 
lute dependence upon him as their creator, 
and the fovereign difpofer of all events ; 
to confcfs their unworthinefs and ill de- 
ferts 3 to imploj'e his protedion and favour -, 
and render thanks to him, as the great 
original and author of all their comfort 
and happinefs, for the various benefits 

which they daily receive from him 

And it may juftly be afked, in what way 
we can be^ account for this general fenfe 
of mankind ? Shall we fuppofe, that it 
took its rife from fuperjlition, and pcr- 
*vertcd notions of Deity ? Or that it was 
a cuilom introduced, by the art and fub- 
tilty of defigning men, in order to make 
a bafe and unwarrantable advantage of 
the devotion and enthufiafm of the multi- 
tude ? This muft feem a Jlrange^ and, I 
believe, very iinfatisfaSfory folution of the 
difficulty, if we confider, how next to 
nniverfally it has prevailed in all times, 
even the moil enlightened^ and amongft 
perfons of the greateft variety of temper 


Nature and Ufe of Prayer, 309 

and iniereji ; and that it has been acknow- Serm. 
ledged as a duty by the generality of the XIII. 
ivifefi and mofl inqiiijitive^ as well as by ^^^^ 
the iinthinlung and credulous : All which 
circumflances afford a fair and moft plau- 
fible ground of prefumption, " that rea- 
" fon, and not fuperjiition^ is the foun- 
" dation of it." But as prayer, notwith- 
flanding this, has been reprefented as ab- 
furdj ujekfs, and difionourable to God ; 
and becaufe the general praBice cannot 
be admitted as a direB and jull proof, 
that it is really founded on the reafon and 
nature of things ; I fhall enquire into the 
grounds of it more particularly : And en- 
deavour to vindicate the fitnefs of it by 
fhewing, " that there lies no folid ohjec- 
tion againft it, from any thing that we 
know of the fixed rules and fchemes of 
providence ; and that it is entirely yi«V- 
able to the nature and condition of 
man, and the relation he ftands in to 

The duty of prayer neceflarily fup- 

pofes the being and providence of God, 

and, in my opinion likewife, that he ex- 

ercifes what we call a particidar fyrovi- 

X 3 de?jce : 

310 A general Difcourfe 07i the 

Serm. dence : i. e. That tho' there is an ejiablified 
'Kill, conjiitutlon and order of things, and the 
good and evil events, which happen in 
the world, are generally nothing elfe but 
the courfe of nature^ or natural caufes 
producing their natural effeBs ; yet the 
God of nature can, by over-ruling and 
direfting its injiuences, anfvi^er all the ends 
of a particular government, and make 
natural caufes at all times, by the unerring 
fliill and uiicontroulable operation of his 
infinite wifdom and power, the injlru- 
ments either of his mercy, or iixiO: and 
exemplary jujiice, of the prejervation and 
happinefi, or the dcJlruBion and mfery of 

Thus, for example, fire and ^xater^ 
wind and rain, have natural powers and 
virtues, and are the effects of natural 
caufes ; but when, or where, the wind 
fli?.ll blow or rain fall, at what time, or 
in what proportions, thefe natural powers 
fliail give or with-hold their influence, this 
the Aln"5ighty referves as his unalienable 
prerogative : And this is his 7^ule and go- 
'■oernment of nature, to fervc the great 
purpofcs of providence v/ith refpecffc to the 


Nature a7id Uft of Prayer, 311 

moral wox\d. We may therefore, without Skrm. 
the leaft taint of entbiifiafm, " pray for XIII. 
" fruitful fcafons, for health and plent)\ ^-^"^"^"^ 
" for the fuccefi of public councils and 
*' negociations, and in (hort for perfonal^ 
*' famih\ or 7iational bleffings, and depre- 
" cate the contrary evils ;" Since the fu- 
preme God without departing from the 
rules of his general providence, and onl'j 
by directing the events of nature^ can 
crown our land with fertility^ or blafl 
with unwholefome winds, in order to 
deilroy by famine ; he can purge the air, 
or fill it with pejlilential vapours ; occa- 
fion unanimity, or diJlraSlion, in public 
debates ; infpire ivifdom and courage, or 
difpirit and infatuate ; and, in a word, 
be the author of all the good or evil, 
either to individuals, families, or public 
commimities, which is neceffary to fupport, 
and maintain with wifdom and equity, 
his empire over the world. And thus it 
appears upon the wdiole, that to addrefs 
the infinite and univerfal fovereign Lord 
for any kind of natural good, or deprecate 
any natural evil, cannot be ahfurd, if we 
fuppofe that he exercifes a particular pro- 
X 4 vidence : 


312 y^ ge;2eral ^Difcourfe on the 

Serm. vidcncc : And as we have reaion to be- 
Xlll. jieve, that this may be done, in mod 
cafes, without breaking in upon the ftand- 
ing laws of nature, or altering vifibly the 
fettled frame and order of the univerfe, 
there muft be the utmofl probability that 
it is the true fituation and ftate of things ; 
fince it gives us a more venerable and 
magnificent idea of God's providence^ and 
renders its influence both more ejicacions 
and extcfifive. * Whereas, if every thing 
happens in ^ fixed invariable coxxxiCy with- 
out being direBed by infinite wifdom to 
fcrve any particidar defigns (which is 
what thofe, who objed: againft: the rea- 
Jonablenejs of prayer, falfely imagine ; and 
it feeras, indeed, to be the grand foimda- 
tion and firength of their prejudice :) If 
this, I fay, be the cafe, then is the idea 
of a providence debajed, and its omnipo- 
tent power is degraded and limited ; and 
it would be no wonder if, upon admitting 
a principle fo ifijurious to the honour of 
the Deity, ih.tfit?2efs of prayer^ or of any 
other the moft evident duty of piety, 
ihould be hard to be determined. But 

* See this fubjeiT:, of a particular Providence, more 
largely and dillinaiy tieated of. Vol. 3. Senn. XIII. XIV. 

Natu7'e and Ufe of Prayer, 313 

But let it be obferved farther, thatSERM. 
prayer not only fuppofes that God exer- XIII, 
cifes a natural providence, but that he is, 
likevviie, iht governoiir of the moral world ; 
and confequently that virtue, or a con- 
formity to his perfedions and laws, is a 
necejjary qualification for \\\s favour , and 
will one time or other be rewarded -, but, 
on the contrary, that vice is the proper 
objed of his rejentment^ and muft expofe 
the guilty offender to difgrace and puntjh- 
ment : And that as this Great Being is in- 
clined, by the abfolute goodnefs of his 
nature, to defire the happinefs of all his 
reafonable creatures, he will be ready, at 
all times, to afford them every fuch de- 
gree of ajjiftance as is neceffary, and con- 
fiflent with their free agency, in the pur- 
fuit of true wifdom and virtue. And fince 
thefe principles, on which prayer is entire- 
ly founded, are the mofl ivorthy and ho- 
nourable fentiments we can frame of God, 
it neceffarily follows, ** that it can no 
** more be abfurd (confidered in itfelf) 
" to implore his gracious aid to enable 
" us to furmount the difficulties of a vir- 
*' tuous coarfe, and to be fleady and per- 

" fevering 

A general Dtfcourfe on the 

fevering in it, and \\\s fpecial proteBwt 
and favour in confequence of our fin- 
cere endeavours to pleafe him j" than 
it is pray for the natural good things of 
the prefent life, and deprecate the incident 
calamities of it ; which has already been 
(liewn to be highly reafonable, and be- 
yond the reach of a juji exception.- 

Thefe things being premifed, by which 
the force of the main objedions againil 
the duty of prayer is, I apprehend, en- 
tirely deflroyed, I fliall now enquire into 
the particular reafom of it. From whence 
it will appear, that the prejudices which 
men may have entertained againfl it, when 
they are not to be afcribed to a corrupted 
mind and an impious alienation of the 
heart from God, arife from a miftaken ap- 
prehenfion of its true nature and defign. 

It is certain then, in the first place, 
that prayer cannot be rightly intended for 
the information of the Deity j either to 
acquaint him with the fincerity of the 
worfliipper, with the inward principles and 
difpofitions of his mind, or with the num- 
ber and grcatnefs of his wants : Becaufe 
all thfe fuppofuions are, in the utmoft 


Nature and Ufe of Prayer* 315 

degree, dijhonourahle to the eternal God, Serm. 
who, having an infinite all-comprehending XIII. 
intelledt, muft be thoroughly acquainted 
with e^oery want of his creatures, and with 
the minuteft circumftance in their condi- 
tion, and know with an infallible exadt- 
nefs their moft hidden motions and defigns j 
as well as how to a6t, in all pojjible cafes, 
with the mofl precife juflice and regula- 
rity. And hence our blefied Saviour, in 
a pafTage immediately following the text, 
has cautioned us againft protra(3:ing our 
prayers to an iinnecejfary lengthy by tedious 
and indecent repetitions ; as if our maker 
was either at a great difiance from us, or 
could not eafily underjiand our cafe, or 
was determined not to hear us, unlefs we 
grew rude and clamorous : But when ye 
pray, ufe not vain repetitions as the Ilea- 
then do : For they think that they JJoall be 
heard for their much fpeaking. Be not ye 
therefore like unto thetn : For your Father 
knoweth what things ye have need of before 
ye afk him. 

Again, Secondly, as the true end 
of prayer cannot be to inform and inftrudt 
the Deity, fo neither is it, in a flrict and 


3 1 6 A general Difcourfe on the 

Serm. proper fenfe, to move his compajion: Be- 
XIII. caufe his kindnefs and mercy towards his 
creatures are, ever, ftj-ong and unchange- 
able ; and it ought not to be imagined, 
iince he kndws every circumftance of their 
diftrefs before-hand, that the moft lively 
and pathetic reprefentation of their wants 
can infiience him to do aiiy things to 
which he is not inclined and prompted 
by his ejfential goodnefs. " CompaJ/ion, as 
*' it is a principle in human nature, has 
** imperfeSfion and weaknefs attending it j" 
which muft, by no means, be attributed 
to the infinite and all-perfedt Being. 

And as our prayers cannot be imagined 
to excite any new fentiment of goodnefs, 
any tifPftinSl of compajjion in God, it is alfo 
impoffible, that they {hould induce him 
to alter any of his general purpofes, or to 
recede from tliat wife fcheme, which he 
originally fixed, for the government of 
the world. We therefore entertain very 
low and contemptible conceptions of him, 
if we underfland importunity in prayer to 
be a wearying him out with our continued 
addrefles, and a kind of teaxing him into 
a compliance ; or, indeed, if we imagine 


Nature a?id Ufa of Prayer, 317 

that it has any other weight with him, Serm. 
than as it renders us Jit fubjeSls of his XIII, 

And, finally. We are not to conceive 
of our maker, as if he was backward to 
do us good, and therefore wanted to be 
courted and Jollicited to it ; or as a 'vain 
being, that delights to be complimefitedy 
and to hear his own excellencies proclaim- 
ed -, and takes pleafure in the fubmiffions 
and humble acknowledgments of his crea- 
tures, merely as ihc pomp 2ind jplejjdid ojleri' 
tation of his fupreme power and domi- 
nion ; Becaufe thefe things are adapted 
only to pleafe weak minds, having nothing 
in them of true and folid excellence,, and, 
of confequence, can never be approved 
by the infinite wifdoni of God. 

And now, from all thefe premifTes, this 
is the natural and unavoidable concliijion 
" that the tdtimate end of the duty 
" of prayer does not refped: God, but 
*' our felloes i" as indeed the end of all 
religion is not any advantage that can re- 
dound to him, but the reBitude and hap- 
pinefi of mankind, in which his glorious 
perfedions are mofl eminently difplayed. 


3 1 8 A general Dtfconrfe on the 

SeRm. Let us therefore fee, whether prayer wilt, 
XIII. not anfwer fome very valuable purpofes, 
~^~'~' conlidered in this view. And if it can 
be proved, that it is a fjatiiral 7neam of 
aflifting and advancing our improvement 
and progrefs in virtue, in the noblefl vir- 
tues, the mofl fublime and amiable dif- 
pofitions ; it can then be no longer dif- 
puted, that it is a fervice founded in rea^ 
foil, and nisifelj recommended and bound 
upon us by the chrijlian revelation. And 
this I fhall now endeavour briefly to de- 

It is unqueftionablyT^/, not only that 
we form juft and worthy notions of the 
divine perfedions, but maintain fuch a 
ivar7n and lively fenfe of them in our 
minds, as will engage us to behave to- 
wards the Deity, in all inftances, with 
becoming veneration and refpedt. And 
this is not only our duty^ but our intereft j 
becaufe it v/ill naturally lead us to endea- 
vour after the purification and refinement 
of our temper in imitation of his moral 
excellencies^ and to keep ourfelves within 
the JlriBeJi bounds of reafon and virtue^ 
from a regard to his "d^ifdom and authority^ 


Nature and life of Prayer, 319 

It mufl farther be allowed, that it Is^VSerm. 
in us, and the higheft point of wifdo?7i XIII. 
we can attain to, to maintain a Jirong 
fenfe of God as our Creator and fupreme 
Governour, and of our obligations to ad: 
fuitably to thofe relations in which he 
has placed us ; and to fecure his ejleem 
and approbation^ on whom we abfolutely 
depend, by a life of entire refignation and 
obedience to his will. It is likewife our 
indifpenfable duty to preferve a thankful 
and affedlionate idea of the divine good- 
nefs : For the goodnefs of God is one of 
the moft noble and generous incentives 
to virtue ; and while there is a grateful 
remembrance of it in the mind, it v/ill 
beget an habitual fupreme love of the 
Deity, univerfal obedience to his com- 
mands, and, particularly, an imitation of 
this amiable perfe(ftion, by adls of bene- 
ficence and mercy to our fellow-creatures. 

No w prayer is a natural meam to raife 
and confirm all thefe excellent fentiments 
and difpofitions within us, which are fuch 
forcible engagements to a religious and 
holy life.— — For what can be better 
adapted to infpire the mofl folemn reve- 

3 20 A general Difcourfe o?t the 

Serm. rence and veneration of God, than ay^- 
XIII. 7'ious ftated adoration of his infinite excel- 
lencies ? What can tend more immediately 
to fix in our minds a deep fenfe of our 
necefi^ary dependence upon him, than a 
frequent acknowledgment of him as our 
almighty creator^ and the fovereign ad- 
minifirator of all the affairs of the uni- 
verfe ; than confe[]ing our impotence and 
i?2fufficie?icy for our own happinefs j and 
confcientioufly ifnplo7'i?ig his direBion, and 
gracious concurrence with us, in every fcene 
of life ? What can afford a ftronger con- 
viction of the excellence, importance, and 
abfolute necefiity of virtue, than the ac~ 
cufioming ourfelves to pray^ that we may 
be led and preferred in the paths of true 
righteoufnefs and goodnefs, as the perfec^ 
tion of our nature, and the highefi: concern 
and interefl of our being ? What can more 
effediually charm us to the love of virtue, 
than a frequent exalting the matchlefs 
beauties of God's moral character ? 

To which we may add, that ferlous 
and frequent addreffes to the Deity, as 
they require an elevation of thought, and 
a great degree of ahjlraBediieJs hotnfenjei 


Nature and Ufe of Prayer, 321 

iiaturally beget a grandeur and digtiity of Serm. 
mind, fuperior to the littk accidents and XIII. 
viciflitudes to which worldly affairs are ^^^^^ 
fubje(fl, a noble contempt of unlawful ad- 
vantages and irregular pleafures, an in- 
creafing purity of thought and afFedtion ; 
and transforna the pious worfhipper into 
a divine temper and life. They infpire an 
habitual hope and confidence in the mercy 
of God as our Father-^ who compaflionates 
our infirmities, and will reward our in- 
tegrity ', and thereby firengthen and invi- 
gorate every good refolution, and help to 
carry it on to perfeBion. They give a 
fixed and rooted fenfe of his omniprefence^ 
and of his clear and intimate infpeSiiofi 
of us 5 which tends to make us always 
tircumfpeBy and regular in our condudl* 
An humble confejjion of our fins, made 
with becoming ingenuity and remorfcj 
naturally produces an abhorrence of all 
paft errors, together with ftrong purpofes 
to amend and avoid all vicious courfes for 
the future* And a deliberate and thank- 
ful acknowledgment of the divine good- 
nefs has a diredt aptitude to raife in us 
love^ gratitude^ and joy in God, and a 
Vol. IV. Y chear^ 

32 2 A general Dtfcourfe on the 

Serm. chearfulnefs and Juhlime delight in doing 
XIII. good. So that prayer, by its 'vifible ten- 
^^'^'''^^^ dency to eftablifli thefe holy difpofitions 
in us, and make us more ftridlly and in- 
flexibly virtuous, muft be " a natural 
" means (which was the thing that I un- 
** dertook to prove) to render us Jit ob- 
** jedls of our maker's favour." And fure- 
ly there can need nothing farther to be 
faid in vindication of it : For it muft be 
an eminent inflance both of the wifdom 
and goodnefi of God, to infifl upon that 
*' as the condition of our deriving i^^^j^ and 
*^ favour from him, which, in the na- 
*' ture of things, prepares us for the re^ 
^.i -ception of it, and difpofes us in the beft 
** manner to improve it." 
a->'SH0ULD it be faid, that thefe great and 
tjfcful purpofes may be anfwered by ferious 
meditation alojie % and if fo, to what end 
is prayer enjoined, or how can it be fhewii 
to be a rational and religious obligation ? 
I would anfwer to this, that the pre- 
fcribing prayer as a fixed and necejfary 
duty muft induce all fuch, as pay a con- 
scientious regard to the authority of the 
divine legiflator,, to enter frequently upon 


Nature aitd Ufe of Prayer. j ^3 

ihefe ufeful meditations : Whereas if they Serm. 
were left at large, and at their full liberty, XIII. 
they might be inclined to omii them, or ^^''VNi* 
engage in them bat feidom, and confe- 
quently their tcfe and efficacy might be 
greatly abated^ if not quite dejiroyed^ by 
their being generally negleBed. If it be 
urged further (and I know of nothing 
elfe that can be objeded) that an exprefs 
command to meditate often, m often ^ as 
It is now fuppofed to be our duty to pray^ 
^nd ovi the very fame weighty and mo- 
men tousyi/^V^j, muft bq afufficient meant 
in reafon, and confequently in all wife 
government, to prevent thh ill effeB : I 
anfwer again — that in an immediate 
^nd folemn addrefs to our maker, our at- 
tention is likely to be more clofe, and our 
fenfe of things moxQ Jirong and lively than 
in any common meditation 5 becaufe we 
have, in a particular mannerj the awe of 
an omnifcient and almighty being, to re- 
flrain us from carelefsnefs and levity. " If 
** oiir difcourfe, upon all occafions, would 
" be more aptly and correSlly formed, if 
" it was direSlly prefented to fome eminent 
" perfonage^ of whofe wifdom and dig- 
Y 2 '* nity 

324 A general Difcourfe on th^ 

Serm. *' nity of character we had a high vcnc-» 
XIII. " ration, than can reafonably be expected 

t^'V'^ " in a free foliloquyy where we converfe 
" only vjkh ourfehes ', our integrity, and 
" concern of mind, in the other parallel 
** cafe (where the heart itfelf is more ac- 
" curately and RriOiiy /canned) muft be 
** ififluenced in proportion.'' No man who 
knows himfelf, and the common workings 
of Human nature^ can poffibly doubt of 
this : " Here is, therefore, a very great 
" and beneficial effe5l^ a peculiar flrong 
** enforcement of religion and virtue, rc- 
*' falling from ^r^^vr ; that is not^o //>^^/)f 
** to be produced by meditation alone T^^ 
And this, I think, is an unanfwerable de- 
fence of its being made, by revelation^ a 
fated and univerfal branch of inftituted 

And now as it appears from the ac- 
count which has been given, of the true 
nature and defign of prayer, that it is a 
fuhordinate and iriflrumental duty ; /. f. a 
duty not enjoined for its own fake, but 
with a view to fome greater and nobler 
end ; We may from hence infer. 


Nature and Ufe of Prayer, 325 

In the first place, that our prayers Serm. 
ought at all times to be offered up, to XIII. 
the fupremely gracious and omnipotent 
Father of mankind, with the utmoft fe- 
rioufnefs and folemnity. For it muft be 
evident to the flighteft refledtion, that the 
more i?itefifely engaged we are in our re- 
ligious addrefTes to the Deity, we are fo 
much the more likely to 'eftablifh, in our 
minds, a becoming reverence of his in* 
comprehenfible and infinite glories, a live- 
ly convidlion that his favour is our ulti- 
mate felicity, and fentiments of horror 
at the thought of his difpleafure, and of 
whatever has a necejfary tendency to ex- 
pofc us to it. It may be laid down as a 
general maxima of undeniable truth and 
certainty, '' that the fecondary duties of 
*^ religion can never ^ from the nature of 
** things, anfwer their end^ if they are 
" fi^2>^^b ^^^ carelefsly difcharged :" For 
as they have a reference to fomewhat be- 
yond themfelves, we muft always have our 
minds clofely attentive to that which is 
their chief and moft momentous ijtew 5 
and therefore not reft in the outward 
7?iea?Uf hut ufe them in fucli a manner as 
Y 3 is 

326 A general Difcourfe on the 

Serm. is moft agreeable to the reafon of thelp 
XIII. injlitution. From whence it follows, that 

'^^"^''"^ a dull^ heavy y unanimated prayer, run over 
with a confiifed and inconfiderate format 
lity, is not properly fpeaking prayer ; but 
triflings and moft audacious impertinence. 

There can no good ht expedted, fron^ 
a light and vain mind, in afiy affair of 
Human life ; much lefs in the important 
concern of religion ; and leaft of all, ii> 
an immediate addrefs to the fupreme being, 
which (if any thing in nature and reafon 
can) muft furely require all imaginable 
gravity and ferioufnefs. And he who i? 
rajh and indeliberate in uttering his peti- 
tions to fo exalted, and, to the conternners 
of his paternal grace and condefcenfion, 
fo tremendoui a being on account of his 
power and ftrid: juftice ; he who is not 
afraid to prefent, to abfolute wifdom and 
immaculate purity, the facrifice of folly 
and infolence j is in the diredl way to have 
his mind rather injured and corrupted, than 
Improved by his prayers : As fuch rude- 
nefs and difrefpe(5t argue his entertaining 
a mean opinion of the God whom he in- 
yocates, and muft, in the end, deilroy 


Nature and Ufe of Prayer, 327 

all the feeds o£ 3. reverential regard to him, Serm. 
all concern about any offices of piety. In XIII. 
vain therefore do we pretend to ivorfoip ^^^^ 
him, if we honour him only with our 
lips, whilft our heart is far from him. — — ' Matth.xv. 
Hypocrify, in every inftance that can be 
conceived, is a moft ofFenlive and hateful 
vice, and the infallible mark of a bafe 
and degenerate mind. But to play the hy- 
pocrite with that infinite and omnifcient 
Spirit, who prefides folely and uncontroul- 
ably over univerfal nature, is accompanied 
with fignal aggravations of guilt : For it 
is the grofleft indignity that can be offered 
to all his perfeBionSy a defiance of his aU" 
thority, and an equal contempt both of 
his mercy and difpleafure. 

Again j from the nature and defign of 

prayer we farther learn, that it fhould be 

frequent. For we muft all know, " that 

** an habitual veneration of God, and 

** fejife of the obligations which we are 

'* under to him, can never be attained, 

" but in the way that all other habits are 

** produced, viz. hy fated and cuftomary 

" aBs of devotion and piety." And upon 

this plain foundation in the reafon and 

Y 4 truth 

328 A general Difcourfe on ths 

Serm. truth of things it was, that St,PW exhorted 
XIII. the T^heffalonians to pray without ceafingy 
{^nQ^. ^' ^' "ot only to endeavour to acquire fuch 
' 7- a ferioiis and well- difpo fed temper, as will 

be an habitual preparation for prayer, but 
aSiually to difcharge the duty itfelf, at all 
the proper feafom and occafwm for it ; fi 
oftetty at leaft, as the nature of the infti- 
tution requires to render it advantageous 
to us, and fubfervient to our perfedliori 
and happinefs, as well as in particular exi^ 
gencieSy that may more efpeci(illy demand 
it. And tho' I will not pretend to^^r 
for every man, what the precife times and 
feafons of prayer are, bccaufe this depends 
on a variety of circumJianceSy which can- 
not all be reduced under one general rule ; 
yet this I may take upon me to aflert, 
without danger of tranfgreffing the bounds 
of truth or modefty — that if the bulk 
of mankind, and even of perfons profef" 
Jing godlinefsy were more regular and con-^ 
Jlant in their devotions, they would be, 
in many refpedts, wifer and better than 
they are j not only more fubmijfwe and 
reverenty in the temper of their minds, 
upwards Gody but more humble and peace^ 


Nature and life of Prayer* 329 

0ihle^ more jujl and charitable^ more mor* Serm. 
itfied with refped to worldly vanities, more XIU. 
correB in their delires, and more cahn 
and decent in all their paffions. For it is 
the cafe of all the fubordinate duties of 
religion, that if they are performed but 
feldom, as well as in a negligent and fu- 
perficial manner, " they in a great mea- 
*' fure lofe their ufe j and, confequently, 
** as they have no gooditefs or excellency 
*^ in them, but as they ftand conneBed 
" with their e7id, they muft alfo lofc 
■' their accept ablenefs and efficacy with 
« God." 

But then in the third place (and 
this indeed is clearly implied in what has 
been already offered, and deduced from 
the fame general principles) we ought 
never to fufFer our prayers to interfere with 
other indifpe7ifable duties of religion, or 
with the necejfary hujinefs and offices of 
Human life. For there is a natural and 
adapted feafon for ei^ery duty 3 and the 
ufe of prayer, in particular is, to implant, 
to raife, and cherifh a moral temper^ and 
not to impair or undermine it. So that 
}f any give themfelves up fo entirely to 


33'0 A general Difcourfe on the 

Serm. tirement from the world, and to paffionate 

XIII. flights and extafles of devotion, as to neg- 

t-^'"^^^ ledl equity and mercy, and other weightier 

matters of the law j if they defert their 

pofl even in order to pray, when they are 

called upon to difcharge the incumbent 

offices of their facial flate, when either the 

public, or private perfons, require and 

fland in need of their ajjiftance ; their 

prayers, inflead of being helps,' are really 

hinderances to true goodnefs : " In all 

** which cafes, prayer cannot be deemed 

*f a reajonahle fervice -, but is mere extra^ 

*' vagance, if not dired: immorality." 

Upon the fame fixed and unalterable 
foundation in the reafon of things, 'uiz. 
becaufe prayer is only a fecondary andy«^- 
fervient duty, calculated and wifely adapt- 
ed for promoting the moral reBitiide of 
Human nature ; as ever we defire or hope, 
that our fupplications fhall find accefs to 
the eternal majeftic throne of him that 
ruleth over all, and be received with pa- 
ternal indulgence and condefcenfion, we 
muft inftantly relinquiflo all our vices, and 
purge our minds from finful and irregular 
pafiiong. If we regard iniquity in our 


Nature and Ufa of Prayer. 331 

hearts^ and, as the unavoidable confe-SERM. 
quence, pradifc it in our lives, God will XIII, 
(hew no favour to our warmejiy longeji^ <y^r*^ 
or moft importunate petitions. For the 
warmth^ in fuch cafes as thefe, mufl be 
either raifed on a falfe foundation, or be 
a mere mechanic piety, unaccountable as 
to its origin^ and uncertain as to its cou" 
tinuance : It contradids the habitual tem- 
per ; and therefore, at beft, can only be 
efteemed as an accidefital fwerving of na- 
ture from its allowed and more ufual ex- 
cefles. And as for the length and imfor- 
funity of fuch prayers, they are rather a 
demonflration of the bold and daring tem- 
per, than of ihQ fmcerity and humble de- 
votion of the petitioner ; becaufe a difo- 
bedient and llubborn child, or an habi- 
tual rebel againfl the inconteftable domi- 
nion of his rightful prince, ought in his 
fupplications to be mode/l, conci/e, and dif- 
fident, inftead of afFedting tedious prolix- 
ities, or urging his demands with an in- 
decent vehemence and ajjurance of fucceis. 
And if we think to atone, by the fre- 
quency and enthujiajlic agonies of our de- 
votion, for the diforders and immoralities 


332 A general Difcourfe on the 

Serm. of our conduct, our prayers muft be rank- 

XIII. ed amongft the laft and mod heinous 

w^Y^*/ /w^/VZ/Vi oi fupetjlition^ a,nd Jalfe religion : 

They arc abfurdy inconfijient, unnatural, 

defpieal^ky even in the eftimate of Human 


Who, for example, does not clearly 
fee that it is mofl idle and exceflive pre' 
fumption, for any man to expedt the for- 
givenefs of his own numerous offences 
committed againft God, whilft he is im^ 
placable in his refentments towards Jiis 
brethren^ and his heart is cankered with 
malice and revenge F The reafon is exactly 
the famey and applicable in an equal lati- 
tude, to all other criminal habits delibe^ 
rately cherifhed, to all immoral courfes 
"voluntarily purfued. — So that if we 
would entertain the moft diftant glim- 
merings of a probable hope, that our 
prayers, which without reformation are 
difguifed impieties, will be of any greater 
advantage to us than our more notorious 
and formal impieties ; we muft each of 
us with a refolution maturely weighed, 
and that will approve itfelf to be fixed 
^nd upright whenever it is brought to the 


Nature and Ufa of Prayer. 333 

trials be able to fay in the words of theSERM. 
Pfalmift (in the ftile adapted to the Jew- XIII. 
ijh difpenfation, but in the general fenfe ^"^"^^^^^ 
confonant to all times) / will ijoajh mine P^al- xxvL 
hands in innocency : So will I compafs thine 
altar, LORD, 

All thefe rules are of indifpenfable 
weight, and muft be ftridly obferved by 
us. And if with the zeal, the wife viewSy 
and holy difpojitions of mind which I have 
now recommended, we pray alway in the 
name of Chrift, —— and watch thereunto 
with all per fever ance \ we need not doubt 
of receiving, from the free and inexhauf- 
iible fource of mercy, every neceffary and 
expedient good. 



The Reafbnablenefs of that Branch 
of Prayer ; which is ftiled In- 

I Tim. ii. i. 

/ exhort therefore that^ firjl of ally 
fupplicationsy prayersy intercef- 
fionSy and giving of thanks be 
made for all men. 

N my laft difcourfe, I coii-Serm. 
fidered the reafonablenefs of XIV. 
prayer in general : In which ^^^V^*^ 
it was (hewn, that it is wifely 
enjoined upon us, as a necef^ 
fary and indifpenfable duty, by the Chri- 
flian revelation ; and very conliftently 
with God's being willing to beflow all 
-' ) good 

33^ Of InterceJlion', 

Serm. good things upon mankind in that way 
XIV. which is the moft fty and moil condu- 
^^"^'""^ cive to the happinefs of his creatures.-^ 
I intend, at this time, to difcourfe con- 
cerning that part of prayer which is called 
inter cejjion^ or the petitions which we offer 
up to almighty God in behalf of others^ 
This, we learn from the text and feveral 
other paffages of the New Teftament, is 
a duty that our holy religion exprefsly re- 
quires of us -y upon which account it is 
proper, that we fhould, in fome meafufe 
at leaft, underftand the true grounds and 
reafom of it. 

And this indeed is the more neceflary, 
becaufe it is pretended by fome, that it 
cannot be accounted for upon the reafom 
which have been alledged for prayer in 
general ; lince every man fujiciently aC'^ 
knowledges the fovereign dominion of the 
Deity, and his abfolute dependence upon 
him, and may imprefs 2l Jlrong fenfe 6i 
thefe things upon his mind, by begging 
the fupplies of his own wants, without 
concerning himfelf with the cafe of his 
fellow-creatures. And, moreover, tho* it 
fhould be allowed, that the great God, in 


br praying for others * 'iT,j 

©rder to our obtaining mercy for oiirfelves^ Serm. 
may require that we (hould pray for itj XI V; 
becaufe our prayers have a natural t'en- 
dency to produce fueh a temper and frame 
of mindj as will difpofe us in the beft 
manner to improve it j yet it cannot be 
imagined^ that our fupreme governourj 
who is abfolutely juft and good, has ren- 
der'd his favour to his creatures fo vaftly 
uncertain and precarious^ as to depend in 
any degree upon the intercejjion of others -, 
and, confequently, on their weakfiejjes, 
variable refolutions, and partial prejudices j 
but, on the contrary, is always inclined 
to do what is right and Jit^ and confer 
upon them all necejjary good j and cannot 
be moved, by our moft earneft fupplica- 
tions, to grant any thing farther^ any 
thing which they do not themfelves de- 
fire^ and are not properly qualified to re- 

To remove this objeftion, againfl tlie 
duty which we are exhorted to in the 
text, I fhall do thefe two things ; which 
will give me an opportunity of fuggell- 
ing fuch hints, as, I hope, will make the 

Vol. IV. 2 weakncfs 

3 3 8 Of Inter cej/ton ; 

Serm. weaknefs of every part of it clearly ap- 
XIV. pear. 

First, I fhall confider whether there be 
not in general a good reajon to be affigned 
for it; whether the pradice of it will 
not anfwer fome very valuabk e?id'j and, 
of confequence, whether the author of 
our holy religion has not aded wifely, in 
making it a part of our duty, I {hall 
then enquire, in the 

Second place, how far It may be 
reafonable for us to exped, that God 
will be favourable to our fellow- creatures 
upon our prayers and intercefjiom in their 
behalf; and this will teach us, how we 
muft iinderfland fuch petitions, and what 
are the proper re/lriSfiojjs and limitations^ 
with which they are to be made. 

First, I am to confider whether 
there be not a good reafon to be affigned 
for this branch of prayer; whether the 
practice of it will not anfwer fome very 
valuable end-, and, of confequence, whe- 
ther the author of our holy religion has 
not adted wifely, in making it a part of 
our duty. And in general it may be 
obferved (though the contrary is infinu- 

2 ted 

Cr praying for other s» 339 

ated by the objedlion ) that praying forSERivr. 
tthers does really anfwer much the fame -^IV". 
good purpofes as praying for ou?'Jelves^ ^•'VNJ 
and that the expediency and ufefulnefs of 
it may in part be accounted for upon 
the very fame principles. Nay^ it may 
be queflioned, whether it ha€ not a ten- 
dency to infpirc and imprefs fome ufeful 
fentiments relating to the Deity, which 
the other does not fo immediately fuggeft. 
In both we equally acknowledge the tranf- 
cendent excellence, fupreme majefly, and 
eternal perfection of the great author and 
governour of the univerfe: For thefe things 
all prayer necelTarily fuppofes. But if, in 
thofe prayers which refpedt our/elves^ we 
endeavour to warm our minds with a be- 
coming fenfe of almighty God as eur cre- 
ator, preferverj and munificent benefac- 
tor ; in thofe which refped: others we con* 
lider him as having created, and together 
with us fupporting, animating^ and ex- 
tending his goodnefs, to the whole race 
of mankind. If in the former^ we hum- 
bly own our entire and continual depen- 
dence upon him j in the latter^ we ac- 
knowledge that all our fellow -creatures 
• Z 2 are 

340 Of Inter cejjlon ; 

Serm. are equally dependent upon him for their 
XIV. being, and every circumftanee of their 
^^'^ happinefs or mifery. In fliort, if in the 
one, wc celebrate liis providential care 
of lis, and direction of every event that 
relates to our particular intereft ; in the 
other, we more direSfly reprefent him to 
the view of our minds as governour of 
the whole rational creation, and fovereign 
dirpofer of all things j and confeqaently 
take a larger furvey of the operations of 
his providence, and the influences of his 
wifdom, power, and goodnefs. 

This argument might be farther in- 
fifted on, but that I think it more pro- 
per to fhew, that there is a particular' 
reafon for this branch of prayer, which 
is very weighty and important ; and that 
is, " its tendency to flrengthen the prin- 
*' ciple of univerfal benevolence in us, to 
" make us look upon the interefts of 
'* our fellow- creatures as our own, to 
*' excite in us an abhorrence of their 
" mifery, and an ardejit generous concern 
" for their happinefs." Univerfal benevo- 
lence fo naturally refults from thofe kind 
a-nd ufeful affeBiofiSy which the gracious 


or praying for others. 341 

author of our being hath planted in usjSerm. 
it is fo fuitable to our reafon^ to the cir- XIV. 
aim/iances and necejjitics of mankind, and 
the relations in which they mutually ftand 
to each other ; the convenience and plea- 
fure of private life^ and the welfare, nay 
the very being, of civil focieties fo ne- 
ceflarily depend upon the exercife of it ; 
it is fo eifential to the reBitude and bappi- 
nefi of every intelligent mind, and has 
been fo juflly efleemed, by all who have 
thought worthily of God, to be his moft 
adorable perfe^ion^ and the chief dignity 
and beauty of his nature ; that whatever 
has a tendency to cultivate and improve it, 
as it muft alfo in the fame proportion pro^ 
tnote the moft amiable part of man's 7}7oral 
perfedion, muft be of the greatcft ujt\ 
and therefore ivifely required, by the fu- 
preme lawgiver, as an injlrumeiital duty 
of religion. 

Now this is the cafe, in an eminent 
degree, with refpedl to the duty recom- 
mended in the text, For what can be 

better fitted to produce an habitual good-* 
will to mankind, than the accuftomino 
ourfclves to pray for their profpcrity F If 
Z -1 ' " we 

34-2 Of hitercejfftoni 

Serm. we fmcerely and offeBionately remember 
XIV. them^ when we offer up our addrelTes tQ 

almighty God for ourfel'ues Can fuch 

^ pradllce as this confift with malice and 
ill-nature J envy and revenge -, or indeed 
with an indolent and ^upid indifference^ 
whether our fellow- creatures are happy or 
miferable? The reafonablenefs and beauty 
of benevolence in itfelf muft recommend 
the exercife of it to all mankind, who 
have not mofi: wofully depraved and cor- 
rupted their nature. But when v/e conr 
fider, befides this, that God has by an 
exprefs and pofitive command obliged us 
to pray for them, " as a conftant te/ii- 
" jno72y of our kind and charitable affec- 
" tions, and a natural means to preferve 
'* our fenfe of generofity and goodnefi 
" warm and lively j " who that has any 
regard to the authority of his great maker, 
of his wife and gracious governour and be- 
nefactor, can difcharge this duty with 
a view to his approbation, and not be led 
by it to love his Jieighbour as himfelj\ and 
improve his charity, by degrees, to its 
litmojl perfeSfion f 

or praying for others, '^^T, 

Let it be obferved farther, that bySERM. 
offering up prayers ^ intercejjions^ diuA fup- XIV. 
plications for all mertj according to the 
Apoflle's advice in the text, we are ne- 
ceflarily led to confider God as the uni^ 
<verfal pare7it of mankind j who is fin- 
cerely defirous of their happinefs^ and 
difpofed to confer upon them all fiiitable 
good. And what are the natural confe- 

quences of fuch a belief? Why that 

all, who partake with us in the fame 
common nature^ are our brethrm^ and con- 
fequently the proper objeds of our bene- 
ficence and companion j that as we are all 
the offspring of him who is abfolutely 
good, we cannot ad: fo becoming the 
dignity of our original, and the relatiofi 
we have the honour to fland in to this 
mofl perfed: being, as when we are em- 
ployed in doing good-, and that the habit 
of univerfal henevoleiice^ as it is a refem- 
blance of his fuprcme perfedion, con- 
formity to his mod amiable example and 
to the methods of his providence, mufl 
render us highly acceptable to him, and 
the oh^eds of his peculiar fawur. And 
can wc grant thcfe confcquences without 
Z 4 being 

344- ^f Intercejjlon \ 

Serm. being defirous of the happinefs of alt 
XIV. mankind, and ftrongly wclined to promote 
it ; or without endeavouring to be a^ually 
as ufeful as our capacities and circumftan- 
ces will allow, that we may bear ftrong 
marks of our maker's image^ and fecure his 
approbation ? This is fcarce poffible where 
there is a ferious and confiderate mind. 

I SHALL only add, that as the duty 
of praying for mankind in general is of 
great advantage, as it tends to raife and 
enlarge the principle of uni'verfal benevo- 
lence , there is one particular branch of 
it, 'uiz. praying for our enemies^ which 
is not only a natural means of moderat- 
ing unruly anger , and rooting out all the 
feeds of revenge and cruelty, but if it be 
accompanied with that fincere love and 
defire of their welfare, which a folemn 
addrefs to omnifcient goodnefs in their 
favour neceflarily fuppofes, is the moil 
highly refined and noble difpoiition of Hu- 
mian nature : And fince this duty has a 
tendency to produce fo generous a fpiric, 
which is the foundation of all focial hap- 
pinefs, and gives a diflinguiflaed grace and 
hifire X.0 all orders and flations of human 

life i 

or praying for others. 345 

life; it cannot, I think, he doubted, butSERM. 
that it has, equally with prayer in gene- -^I^- 
ral, a manifeft ilrong foundation in the ^•''^'^ 
reafon of things, and is properly recom- 
mended and enjoined, as one of the necef- 
fary offices of Chrijlim piety ^ by the gra- 
cious inflitution of the gofpel. 1 pro- 
ceed now to the 

Second thing propofed, which was 
to enquire, how far it may be reajonahk 
for us to exped:, that God will extend 
his favour to others upon our prayers and 
inter cejjions in their behalf; and, confe- 
quently, how we muft underftand fuch 
petitions, and what are the proper refiric- 
tions and limitations^ with which they 
ought always to be made. The Apoftle's 
exhortation is delivered in general terms ; 
and therefore our own reafon muft deter- 
mine, in what cafes it is expedient for us 
to pray for our fellow-creatures, and for 
what particular bkjjings. And if there 
be any thing, which we have good ground 
to believe will not be granted^ as being 
befide the ordijtary courfe of providence, 
pr unfit for- God to beflovv as the wife 


34^ Of hiterceJftoTi ; 

Serm. govemour of the moral world, it muft be 

XIV. impertinent and trifling to make it the 

'matter of our petitions. This being pre- 

mifed, I fliall purfue the enquiry morq 


First, with refped: to our prayers 
for the happinefs of all mankind^ or for 
the peace and ^welfare of the cvoil com- 
munity to which we belong. 

Secondly, with refpe(5l to thofe pray- 
ers for families^ or private perfons, iii 
which we petition for any natural good^ 
or to avert any natural evil. 

Thirdly, as to prayers for the ad- 
vancement and encreafe of truth and vir^ 
tue ix\ general : And thofe, in the 

Last place, in which we defire ajjif-' 
iance for particular perfons to recover them 
from error and vicej and promote their 
moral perfeBion. 

First, I am to enquire concerning the 
reafonablenefs of praying for the happinefs 
of mankind in general, or the peace and 
ivelfare of the civil community to which 


or fraying for others, 347 

we belong. If by the happlnefs of man-SERM. 
kind we underftand their happinefs upon XIV, 

the whole to pray for it cannot ap- ^^^^^ 

pear unreafonahle to any one, who confi- 
ders the iinlmited and imherfal goodnefs 
of their great creator: And accordingly, 
the Apoftle, in the fourth verfe of this 
chapter, urges it upon us from this very 
confideration ; that it is good and accep- 
table in the fight of God our Saviour ^ who 
will have all men to be faved^ and to come 
tmto the knowledge of the truth. Or if 
by the happinefs of mankind we mean 
thtii temporal profperit)\ that liberty^ peace ^ 
plenty^ and good order may prevail and 
flouri(h throughout the world, and parti- 
cularly in the civil fociety of which we 
are members ; to pray for this cannot be 
abfiirdi if we believe a particular provi- 
dence, which, without a miracle^ can di- 
re(fl and over-rule nature's influences in 
fuch a manner, as to make them fubfer- 
vient to all its great purpofes either for 
the good or hurt of focieties. 

It muft indeed be allowed, that the 

final happinefs of mankind depends upon 

their moral re&itude 5 and that thofe blef- 


34^ Of InterceJJton 'y 

Serm. fngs^ which may alio be confidered as re- 
XIV". wards of providence, are only conferred 

^^^'^^^^ on regular and virtuous focieties, in which 
frugality, juflice, probity^ honour^ genero- 
fty^ and the foc'ial virtues prevail j and 
that diforderly communities which are ener- 
vated by luxury, and abandoned to cor- 
ruption and mce, have reafon to expecSt, 
from the king of nations, nothing but to- 
kens of his difplcafure and vengeance* 
Therefore as it cannot be prefumed, that 
God will afcertain the happinefs either of 
private perfons or bodies politic, fo as 
to render it an unavoidable and necefj'ary 
events as this, I fay, cannot be prefumed, 
becaufe it depends upon their virtue, 
which is entirely a matter of choice, and 
will ^dmit of no conjiraint -, the general 
fenfe of the prayers which we are now 

fpeaking of can be 720 more than this r- 

" That the almighty will do all that is 
" necejjary, cojijijient with his unvariable 
" perfeBion of nature and the wifdom of 
" his providence, to promote the moral 
" reBitude, and in confequence the fu- 
*' preme felicity, of all hjs reafonable 
'' creatures } that he will be gracioufly 


or graying for others, 349 

*' pleafed to favour all good focieties with Serm. 

*^ his fpeciat proteBion^ and crown them XIV. 

** with profperity and honour ; and make 

** ufe of all methods, that are agreeable 

** to the ejlahlijhed rules of his govern- 

" rhent, for the reformation of fuch as 

*' are vicious, that thefe likewife may en- 

*' joy the bleflings of order, peace, and 

" liberty, and become the obje(5ts of his 

** kind and pleafurable regard." 

If this be all, it may be faid, what do 
our prayers fignify ? Will not the friend, 
the father, of mankind do all this, whether 
VJ^ petition him or not? If we (hould grant 
he would, flill our prayers for the good 
of mankind, and for national peace and 
tranquility, are of unqueflionable ufe, as 
they have a direSi tendency to procure the 
things prayed for, 'oiz. perfonal and pub- 
lic 'virtue, and confequently private and 
focial happinefs. For we are to confider, 
that it is a duty riot enjoined on a few, but 
obligatory upon all; and if all would 
difcharge it, according to the defign and 
diredion of Chriftianity, in a becoming 
fenfe of what they owe to God, to their 
reafonabk nature, and to civil fociety, it 


35^ Of inter cefftofit, 

Serm. could not fail of reforming both privaU 
XIV. and public vices, and promoting a univerfal 
zealous cultivation and purfuit of virtue. 
And when there are but a few v^ho make 
confcience of it^ there is fo tnuch, how- 
ever, gained to virtue's caufe^ and to the 
happinefs of Human nature; which is a 
very important argument to perfuade fuch 
pioudy difpofed perfons to confiancyy even 
in the mofl degenerate times. To which 
we may add, that it can never be fhewn 
to be inconfiftent with the ivijUom of pro- 
vidence, for the fake of their prayers, to 
fufpend, for a while at leaft, the 'vengeance 
due to a finful people, and grant them 
fome temporal privileges. 

Secondly, in our prayers for families 
or private perfons, in which we petition 
for any natural good, or deprecate any na- 
tural evil — — wemuft take care not to 
alk fuch things as are beyond the fated 
courfe of nature, and require a miraculous 
interpofition ; nor folicit the diredion and 
afllftance of the Deity in tinfing cafes that 
are unworthy of it. And if we avoid thefe 
and fuch like irregularities, and offer up 


of praying for others, 3 ^ t 

our fupplications for temporal bleflings Serm. 
Vvith due fubmijjion to the infinite wifdom XIV. 
of the all-difpofing mind ; it is no more 
abfurd upon the nation of a particular 
frovidence (by the exercife of which any 
tiatural good may be fecured, or any natu- 
ral evil averted from families or individuals) 
to make fuch prayers for others^ than it is 
to do it for ourfelves. And as the blef- 
fings of the prefent life are not always^ 
nor perhaps generally, beflowed on men 
as the reward of their own virtues ; they 
may fometimes, for any thing we can 
urge to the contrary, be wifely granted to 
one who is himfelf unworthy of them, 
in anfwer to another man's prayers, and 
as a proper encouragement and reward of 
his piety. 

Thirdly, when we pray for the ad- 
vancement and encreafe of truth and vir- 
tue in general < we can fcarcely doubt 
of the acceptance of the Deity, if we con- 
fider that he is an abfolutely holy being, 
delighted with the reBitude of his own 
moft perfect nature \ and confequently one 
that cannot but be highly pleafed, to fee 


352 Of Inter cejjton j 

Serm. his moral per feSliom univerfally imitatei^ 
XIV. Or if we reprefent him to our minds un- 
^^^^1^ (3er the character of the wife governour of 
the rational world, nothing furely can be 
more agreeable to him than a fteady pur- 
fuit of truth and virtue -, which is, in 
other words, an ohfervance of his laws. 
Or finally, as the father of mankind, 
who bears the moft perfedl benevolence 
and tender affedion to his offspring, he 
can approve of nothing more than the 
moral reBitude of his reafonable creatures; 
with which their trueft, moft fubftantial, 
and lafting happinefs is infeparably con- 

Indeed, as mankind are in a ftate of 
irialy their purfuit of truth and virtue 
muft, as was before obferved, be the mat- 
ter of their own choice ; and therefore it 
cannot be ex'pedled, fince it is unfuitable 
to the make and condition of their na- 
ture, that they ihould be necefarily de- 
termined to goodnefs by an irrefftible 
operation upon their minds. So that 
when we pray for the advancement of pi- 
ety, and rigkteoufnefs ; or, in the language 


or praying for others, 353 

of that mofi excellent model of prayer Ser Mi 
which Gur Saviour taught his difciples, XIV. 
that God's kingdom may come, and his 
will be done on earth as if is irt heaven ; 
we can mean no more, if we pray with 
the underjiafiding^ and agreeably to thofe 
general rules which are ertablifhed for the 
government of the tiioral v^orld, than to 

defire of him *' that he would afford 

** mankind all neceffary knowledge^ and all 
" proper advantages for the difcharge of 
" their duty, and furnifh them With /tiffin 
^^ cient motives to encourage creatures, 
** endued with fuch powers and capaci- 
" ties, to the diligent and conltant prac- 
^^ tice of it; atid take the moft effeBual 
*' methods, confijient with their free a- 
" gency and the trial of their fidelity 
" (whether by fecret influences upon their 
** minds, or in ajiy other way that to his 
** infinite wifdom may feem moft ex- 
" pedient) to caufe truth and holi?iefs ge^ 
** nerally to prevail, and triumph over 
** error and vice'* And tho' it fliould be 
allowed, that the reBitude^ but efpecially 
the abfolute goodnefs^ of his nature might 
incline him to do this without being 
Vol. IV. A a peti- 

354- ^f l^tercejjton ; 

Serm. petitioned for it, in order to promote an 
XIV. event, in which the honour of his own 

^yV^ perfections and the happinefs of his reafon* 
able creatures are fo nearly concerned j 
the fraying for it may ftill be of great 
z^fe, and confequently a fervice founded 
in reafon, and worthy his acceptance whofe 
nature is the fupreme and moft perfeB 
reafon, as it will naturally put every many 
who performs it with a ferious mind, 
upon refining his own moral difpofitions, 
and afpiring after the perfeBion of virtue, 
in order to introduce that bleffed ftate of 
things which he fo ardently dejires, when 
the wickednefs of the wicked fiall come to 
an endy and the jufi be eftablijhed, I now 

In the last place, to confider the 
reafonablenefs of thofe prayers^ in which 
we defire ajfiftance for particular perfons 
to reclaim them from error and vice, and 
promote their moral perfeSiion. And with- 
out doubt we may fafely go fo far, as t9 

pray in general '* that the blefTed 

" God, who defer eth not the death of 
^ JinnerSy but rather that they would 
** repe?it and live, would take all fuch 

" methods 

or praying for others, 355 

*' methods for the recovery of thofe wIioSerm. 

" are ignorant and vicious, as are not XIV. 

" difiomurable to his own perfcdions, ^■''''VNJ 

** nor contrary to the wife defigns of 

*' his providence ; and that if there are 

*' any mea?jSj confiftent with his infinite 

** wifdom and purity, which are likely 

" to be more effeSlual than thofe which 

" have been already afforded them, he 

" would be pleafed to make ufe of thefe to 

" bring about fo defirable an end." ^ 

But to pray for the converfion of thofe 
who are quite abandoned to vice^ and 
who, inftead of dejiring our prayers, ri- 
dicule and make a jefl of them as weak 

and enthufiaftical *' this is what I can 

" fee fcarce any warrant for, either in 
** reajon or in revelatwi^ If a fenfe of 
their fins puts fuch perfons upon pray^ 
ing for themfehes, the thoughts of their 
hearts, and the iniquities of their lives, 
may be forgiven them ; but without this^ 
the intercejfions of others are likely to 
have very little eftedl. For men can only 
expert divine ajjijlances to co-operate with 
their natural powers ; and when any give 
themfelves up entirely to the gratification of 
A a 2 their 

35^ 0/ Intercejjfion% 

Serm. their irregular appetites, in defiance of the 
XIV. authority of heaven^ and the law of theif 
^■^^VN-' reafonahle nature^ they are in great dan- 
ger of being abandoned by God to a re^ 
probate mind, and confequently to mifery 
and dejlnidiion. 

What I have hitherto faid relates 
only to fraying for others, in the /lri5i 
fenfe of the word. To the other branch 
of the duty mentioned in the text, viz, 
giving of thanks, I need fay but little j 
becaufe it is as evidently calculated to 
ilrengthen the divine principle of univer^ 
fal benevolence as intercejjion, and feems 
to be natural to a truly charitable and 
generous heart, that is affectionately con- 
cerned for its fellow-creatures, and re- 
joices in their profperity. There is fcarce 
any man, who does not think himfelf 
obliged to return thanks to almighty God 
£qv fatnily and national mercies, as well 
as for thofe which are purely private and 
ferfonal. Let him but extend his views, 
and he will find that all mankind conftitute 
one publick community , who are governed 
by the fame laws, and ought to purfue 
one common interejl ; that they have all 



or praying for others, 357 

one father oi thtiv Jpirks, and are ^dr/w^SERM. 
from the fame original parent of their XIV". 
earthly nature : For God hath made of one Ads 
blood all natiom of men^ to dwell on all the^^' 

face of the earth, Let us be perfuaded, 

therefore, to ad: as becomes our generous 
^nd /octal (rsLvne^ by a frequent and chearful 
difcharge of this reafonable^ mod natural^ 
and important duty ; that we may be the 
better fitted to live and converfe hereafter 
(with tranfporting and ineffable delight) 
among fuperior gracious fpirits of moffc 
enlarged and pure benevolence, and under 
the eternal fmiles of the God of love^ 
whofe compajjiom are immutable^ and his 

tender mercies over all his works, And 

as, even in the prefent world, we are ail 
of us fometimes forced to converfe with 
ourfelveSy it mufl be of the Ligheft con- 
cernment to us to eflabli(b and improve 
fuch difpoiitions and habits as, when we 
look ijiward^ will yield an agreeable and 

pleafing entertainment. That diffufed 

and ardent fpirit of humanity, which 
the exhortation in the text infpires, we 
ihall furvey with continual approbation 
and complacency : But if this be wanting, 
A a 3 and 

358 Of Inter cejjion^ 8cc. 

Serm. and we do not find ourfelves raifed above 
XIV. the corrupt influence of a contra&ed and 
felfijh temper, our own hearts and real 
charaBers will be the moft ungrateful ob- 
jects we can contemplate, and can excite 
no other paffions in us but Jhame and 



Of Idolatry ; and Vifiting the Sins 
of the Fathers upon the Chil- 

Exodus xx. 4, 5, 6. 

T^ou Jhalt not make unto thee any 
graven image^ or any likenefs of 
any thing that is in heaven a- 
iovey or that is in the earth he- 
neathy or that is in the water 
under the earth : Thou jhalt not 
bow down thyfelf to them^ nor 

ferve them.- For I theLORD^ 

thy Gody am a. jealous God^ vi- 

Jiting the iniquity of the fathers 

A a 4 upon 

360 Of Idolatry. 

upon the children unto the third 
and fourth generation of them 
that hate me ; and Jhewing 
mercy unto thoufands of them 
that love me^ and keep my com- 

cir-pi^/r ^^K^QHEREare 2fw(? kinds or 
XV. |^%^"^^M ^^g'^^^s of idolatry, plainly 

^"^^^-^ y^^\ T Itm^l repuffnant to the immuta- 
^^=^ff^^3^ ^^^ l^w of nature, and the 
^^I^P^S effential principles of re- 
vealed religion : The one is, the fetting 
up an idioX-deity ; the other, an idolatrous 
manner of worJJnp. To under ftand the 
ground of this diftindion, we need only 
attend to the general account which St. 
Paul has given us of an idol^ that it is ;?<?- 

iCor.viii. thing in the world-, i. e. it is entirely a chi' 

4- mcra^ the wildfuggeftion, the mere creature^ 

of a depraved judgment and licentious fancy, 
but has no real exigence in the nature 
of- things, nor foundation in reafon. A 
falfe therefore, which is the fame as a 
non-exijhng, muft in the fenfe of this Apo- 
flle be an idol God : And the introdu- 

Of Idolatry, 361 

cing unwarranted and unnatural mediuffJsSB'RM, 
of wor{hip, or irrational and improper XV. 
reprcfentations of the oi>je^ of worfhip, ^^^^^ 
muft be an idolatrous praftice. 

And the fecond commandment, in dif- 
ferent views of the prohibition contained 
in it, may include both of thefe. When 
the worship payed is defigned to center 
in the image (as perhaps may be the 
cafe among fome grofsly rude and favage 
nations) '' the eternal and fovereign God 
" is in effedt annihilated^ and an idol is 
" permitted to ufurp his throne as the 
^' objed: of fupreme veneration j" if an 
imaginary inferior God (as was undeni- 
able faB, in innumerable inflances, a- 
mong the Heathens of old) be ferved and 
adored through an image j " the objeSf^ 
" and the tnanner^ of worfhip are both 
** idolatrous^ But if the honours allotted 
to images be intended to terviinate in 
the true and living God, the fource of 
all perfedion and power j " then the ido^ 
" latry refped:s, and is confined to, the 
'* mode of worfliip only." 

This is fully fufficient to (hew, that 
V^^hat is forbidden in that divine law of 


362 Of Idolatry. 

3erm. the decalogue, which we are now confi-' 
XV. dcring, is properly and ftridly idolatry. 
And indeed, in the primary view and 
acceptation of the word, idolatry had a 
more immediate relation to the rehgious 
honours conferred upon fenfelefs and im- 
potent images J and there was fcarce an 
adl of devotion paid to an v^oX-deity^ 
by the deplorably bewildered and de- 
generate Pagans^ but what was perform- 
ed before fome image. And as the 

offence itfelf founded on the moft mean 
and irreverent apprehenfions of God, 
and tends to the utter extirpation of 
reafon, and corruption of all ^cr^/ prin- 
ciples ; as the Jews^ to whom this precept 
was firft delivered, were ftirrounded on 
all fides by nations addi{51:ed, and perti- 
nacioully devoted, to the fever al idolatries 
therein forbidden, and were themfelves 
inclined to pradife the like impieties, 
from the impreffions which they had re- 
ceived, too ftrong to be eafily erafed, in 
favour oi fuperflition and 2i J'ymbolical wor- 
fiip^ while they refided in Egypt-, and, 
finally, as a great part of the pretended 
Chrijiian world are adually involved in 


Of Idolatry, 363 

the fame error, and other communities Serm. 
more truely chrifiian (at leaft as to XV. 
matters oi faith and the external form ""^^^^^^^ 
^nd order of their worfhip) ilill retain 
fome traces of idolatry, and fome occa^ 
fwjts of fcandal by which it may be 
again introduced : Upon thefe accounts, I 
iay, it was wife in God to inflitute, and 
{liftinguifli, the law contained in the text 
as one of the mofl facred in the whole 
difpenfation of Mofes j and it is highly ex- 
pedient in the prefent times, that it (hould 
be particularly explained and enforced. 
And the rather, becaufe as the obliga- 
tion of the iirfl commandment refults 
from the necejjary exiftence and unity of 
the fupreme Being j fo the rcafons of 
this alfo, as will be demonftrated in the 
following difcourfe, ** do not derive them- 
" felves from any thing peculiar in the 
** circumftances of the fewi/h nation, but 
f* are equally moral and invariable.** I 
therefore now recommend, and (hall con- 
fider, it as an original law of God, an 
eternal law, a law as extenjive as Human 
nature itfelf, and an indifpenfable branch 
of Chrijlian morality, that thou Jhalt not 


364 Of Idolatry. 

Serm. make unto thee any graveti image ^ or any 
XV. likenefs of any thing that is i7i heaven 
above^ or that is in the earth beneath, or 
that is in the water under the earth : 'Thou 
Jhalt not bow down thyfelj to them, fior 
Jerve them. 

To guard againft this moft deflruflive 
error to all rational piety and virtue, in 
every form in which it is poffible for it 
to prevail and to be eflablifhed, the pre- 
cept itfelf is expreffed in the flrongefl 
and moft exclufive terms ^ hardly capable of 
being mifunderftood by the moft igno- 
rant, or evaded by the moft artful and 

fophiftical reader. -Thou (halt not make 

unto thee any graven image, or any like- 
nefs zx\y figure, or reprefentation. And 

as if this, which one would think could ne- 
ver be darkened by the moft profound 
comments, was not fufficient, the uni- 
verfal prohibition is ftill more difti?0ly 
explained, to make it obvious, without 
the leaft room for hefitation, to the loweft 
degrees of human reafon. If the expref- 
iions had been only general, without an 
enumeration of particulars, " exceptions 
*^ might have been imagined of fome ob- 

*-' jeds. 

Of Idolatry. 365 ' 

" jedls, of fingular magnificence ^ perfec^ ^'^'RiA. 
'' tion, and ufe in the creation j" and thefe XV. 
fpecioujly reprefented, might have con- 
founded weak minds, and have impofed 
upon the credulous. But when it is faid not 
any graven image, or any likenejs of any 
thing that is in heaven a^ove, or that 
is in the earth beneath, or that is in 

the WATER under the earth *' this 

*' comprehends minutely the whole frame 
" and fi:ope of nature, and every being, 
" rational or irrational, animate or ina- 
" nimate, that exifts in it." It includes 
likewife, under the phrafe any like^ 
nefsj all piBures, together with graven 
images, as unlawful and prohibited; as 
indeed the reafon of the thing equally 
condemns both, or jujlifies both. And it 
is too abfurd a pofition to need any con- 
futation, that a painter may lawfully form 
idols to be worfhipped, of men and brute 
animals, of flars and vegetables, and grofs 
corporeal reprefentations of God himfelf ; 
which immediately lofe their innocence^ 
and become inftances of heinous itnpietyy 
when produced or exhibited by the fkill 
of the engraver. For, according to this 


366 Of Idolatry, 

Serm. way of arguing, the command muft have 
XV. been chiefly levelled, contrary to the exprefb 

'^ ' ' letter of the text and the common fenfe 
of mankind, " not againft worpsipping^ 
" but againft carving the image." Such 
Wretched and ridiculous fhifts as thefe 
can fcarce be treated in a ferious manner^ 
" which fuppofe the different workman- 
" fiip of the artificer to conftitute and 
** define 7}ioral good and eviiy 

Some of the moft antient Chriftiari 
writers were of opinion, that the making 
any image was in virtue of this command 
criminal, abftra6t from all confideration 
of the ufe or fervice to which it w^s ap- 
propriated : Which notion they very pro- 
bably learned from the Jews^ who, in 
the laft period of their ftate, were fcJ 
averfe to idolatry, that they ran into the 
other extreme of, I think, fuper/iition ; in 
this inftance, indeed, diredly oppofed td 
idolatry, and therefore juftly denominated 
the other extreme, but in many cafes na- 
turally connected with, and leading to it. 
And prepoiTefled with this fentiment, they 
reduced the fecond precept of the deca- 
logue to three heads. T^hou Jhalt not 


Of Idolatry, 367 

make any image thou fialt not bowSERM. 

down to it thouJJdalt not worfhip it, XV. 

But it is plain, from the general fcope ^-^"^^'"^ 
and mod natural conftrudlion of the law 
itfelf, that the making the image was only- 
condemned in this precife and determinate 
quality, of making it to be wor flipped : 
And the reafon annexed — *— / am a jea- 
lous God will only fuit with this inter- 
pretation of it. For thou {halt not prof. 
trate thyfelf, nor pay religious adoration^ 
to inanimate images, becaufe / the Lord 
thy God am a jealous God, this has energy 
and a very important meaning in it ; but 
I am a jealous God, therefore thou fhalt 
not make an image or picture for any 
purpofe whatfoever, where is the Jigniji- 
cancy, where the weight and concluf. :enefs 
of this argument ? It might as well have 
been faid (and the inference would have 
been altogether as rightly drawn) I am a 
faithful, or a mercijul God: Which fhews 
moft plainly that it is not a juft dedu(5tion3 
becaufe it would equally follow upon ad- 
mitting quite different premifes. But not 
to infift longer on wha^ are, at leaft in 
my judgment, miftakes of the true mean- 


368 Of Idolatry. 

Serm. ing of this precept, I now proceed to 
XV. fpecify particularly the feveral kinds of 

^^^^^^^"^ idolatry that are forbidden by it: And 
they may aH be reduced to the follow- 
ing heads. 

First, as abfolutely immoral, the re- 
prefenting the everlafting and fuprem^ 
God under arty material and vijible Jimi- 

Secondly, x\\q worjhipping \\ri2igz% zb 
containing fymbolical charaBers of any of 
the perfedions of the fovereign Deity, 
or of any perfons or things, that thus 
defcribe and figure out the efTential attri- 
butes of the Creator and fupreme God 
of the unlverfe. 

Thirdly, the ufing fuch images as 
mediums of worftiip, ultimately paid to 
the true God j or to idol-^o^^, or idol-medi^ 

Fourthly, the paying religious ho- 
nours to them as having iht fupreme, or 
any inferior, divinity prefent with them in 
an extraordinary way, or peculiarly tefiding 
in them. 


Of Idolatry, 369 

Fifthly, the precept in the textfeems Serm. 
to me to forbid not only internal fervice, X\ . 
and offices of religion directed to the 
image, but the paying it marks of reve- 
rmce and o'utward honour, 

And^ in the LAST place, the grofTeft 
extreme and llupidity of this kind of ido- 
latry is, terminating the worfliip in the 
images themfehes. Each of thefe propo- 
fitions I (hall explain, where the terms 
may be thought obfcurCj and briefly il- 
luftrate and confirm. 

In the first place then, I appre- 
hend, that the text condemns, as abfo- 
iutely immoral^ the defcribiftg the ever- 
lafting and fupreme God under any nm- 
terial and ijifible fimilitude. That this 
was intended in the commandment it- 
felf, appears undeniably from the reafon 
by which Mofes re-inforced the obferva- 
tion of it on all the people of Ifrael^ in 
the fourth chapter of the book of Deii-^^^^^. 
teronomy. His words are exceedingly re- i^- 

markable Take ye good heed, fays he, 

unto yourfelves^'^'--^(for ye faw no manner 
cf SIMILITUDE on the day that the Lord 

Vol, IV, B b f^akr 

^yo Of Idolatry, 

Serm. fpah unto you in Horeb out of the midjl of 
XV". the fire) leaft ye corrupt y ourfelves, and make 
you a graven image ^ the fimilitude of any fi- 
gure : ** Where the force of the argu- 
*' ment, for ye faw no fimilitude^ isdiredtly 
** and immediately levelled againfl making 
** the image, and only by confequence, and 
*^' more remotely, againft worfijippi?jg the 
** image." And other facred writers, both 
among the Prophets and Apoftles of our 
Lord, reprefent this prohibition as founded 
Jiot on mere pofitive authority J but on reafons 
that are moral and perpetual. Thus the pro- 
phet Ifaiah, having fet forth the exalted and 
fuper-eminent majefly of God in moft grand 

and lofty expreflions ( as that he hath 

meafured the waters in the hollow of his hand^ 
and meted out heaven with a fpan, compre- 
bended the dufi of the earth in a meafure^ 
weighed the mountains in fcales, and the hills 
in a balance; and that all nations before him 
itre as nothings they are counted to him lefs 
than nothingy and vanity) he immedi- 

Ifa-.xl. iS. 2tcly adds, to whom then will ye liken God, 
or what likenefs will ye cotnpare unto 
him? — —Which is the iame as if he 
had cxprefsly faid, ^[ that no fuch at- 

•* tempt 

'Of idolatry. 371 

^'* tempt ought enjer to be rrtade, thatlSERM. 
** it is abfolutely unnatural and monjirous XV. 
" in itfelf, and a derogation from the 
" matchlefi glory of the fupreme Divinity." 
trpon the fame principles St. Paul argued> 
when he imputed it to the Heathens as 
an inftartce of moft wretched infatuation 
and inexcufable impiety j th^it ihty cbajjged Ko^-^tii 
the glory of the incorruptible God into 
an image made like unto corruptible man, 
and to birds, and four-footed, beajis, and 
treeping things. 

If then degrading the mofl: High be 
unfit in its own nature, at all times^ and 
in all fuppofable circum fiances ; the re- 
prefenting him under the figure of any 
material being in the univerfe muft be 
abfolutely and eternally immoral. It is a 
{hocking indignity offered to the bound- 
lefs wifdomi the omnipotence, the im- 
menfity of the divine nature, to pretend 
to describe it by what neceffarily involves^ 
in the very idea of it, fclly^ imperfeBion^ 
iveaknefs^ and limited exiftence -, or *' by 
*' maihejnatical figures, of a determinate 
** P^ape and narrow bound, to give any^ 
** mtion at all, and much more an ac- 
B b a " curate 

372 Of Tdclatry. 

Serm, " curate notion of him, who has no 
XV. «' fhape, and whofe eflence, duration, 

v^V^s^ " and dominion are uncircu?jifcnbed." It 
is an offence againft the light of nature ; 
a diredit oppofition to the revealed law of 
God J it difgraces the Proteflant rehgion, 
by lis fymbolifing fo grofsly with the idola- 
trous corruptions of the church of Rotne 5 
and renders Chrijiianity itfelf^ tho' un- 
juftly, the objed: of contempt and infuh : 
And, finally, it tends to erafe from the 
minds of the vulgar, all rational ve- 
neration of God } and to infpire fuch low 
and carnal apprehenfions concerning him, 
as muft naturally terminate either in pro- 
fhanefs ov fuperjiition. But, 

Secondly, the command given in 
the text forbids, farther, the worjhipping 
images, as containing fymholical reprefen- 
tations of any of the perfedions of the 
fublime incomprehenfible Deity j or of 
any perfons or things, that thus defcribe 
and figure out the elTential attributes of 

the fovereign God of the univerfe. As 

if, for example, any fhould pay religious 
reverence to a lion, or an elephant, as on 
account of their ilrength fitted to repre- 


Of Idolatry. 373 

fent the power of God ; or to the fun as Serm. 
the nobleft 'oifihle emblem of that fupreme XV. 
fpirit^ which chears and animates univerfal ^^*^ 
nature. This was the defence, that fome 
of the moft difcerning and fagacious Hea^ 
ihenSj of old, made for their national and 
publick. idolatries: And though it was, 
I fuppofe, the bejl vindication of the 
eflablifhed fuperjlition of their country, 

that they could then invent that it 

was confecrated ultimately to the Father 
of Gods and Meny and not intended to 
center in the vifible idols ; yet it was in 
truth a mofl ahfurd and lame vindication, 
unbecoming the reafon of a man^ and 
much more unworthy of perfons of fu- 
perior penetration. For the emblems them- 
felves were entirely inadequate to, and 
infinitely beneath^ the dignity, and glory, 
and excellence of the objeB defigned to 
be reprefented ; and, therefore, could not 
poflibly convey 2LX\yjuft idea of it. " Be- 
*^ fides, as the comparifon is fuppofed to 
" be made for the fake of the common 
<* people (who otherwife, it is pretended, 
** would be able to form fcarce any no- 
** tion at all of the. Deity) their j^y? fenfe 
B b ^ ** of 

374 Of Idolatry^ 

Serm. ^' of things, unufed to art and fubtiltyj 
Xy. « would naturally lead them to thinkj 

^^^^ ** that the objed^ compared were alike -, 
*' and not vajily^ totally^ infinitely difFe- 
■* rent : " And, of confequence, their ap- 
prehenlions of the fupreme God mufl 
be debafedy and their inward reverence of 
him lejfencd and impaired by all fuch fym- 
bolical reprefentations. But as this part 
of my difcpurfe has not much relation 
to the prefent times, I content myfelf 
with having juft mentioned it, as what 
naturally fell within the fcope of the fe- 
cond commandment j and (hall now pro- 
ceed to another head, in which Chrijiians. 
and Pagans are e(jually concerned. An4 
that is. 

In the t^iRD place, that the fecond 
commandment, which is the fubjed: of 
pur prefent confideration, forbids the 
pfing images as mediums of worfhip ulti- 
mately paid to the true God, or to idol- 
Godsy or iAq\' Mediators. That this is the 
dodrine of the Old Teftament, to which 
this precept more immediately belongs, 
will be unanfwerably demcnftrated by 
the iingle inflance of the Ifraelites wor- 


Of Idolatry. 375 

(hipping the golden calf in the wilder- Serm. 
nefs, and the account given of It in thefe XV, 
facred writings. Upon the firft view of ^''^^^' 
that hiftory, it muft appear altogether 
extravagant to fuppofe, that this people 
could ever imagine the image itfelf\ which 
they knew to be their own invention^ 
and their own workmanJJnp^ to be the 
very eternal TiXidi felf-exifient Jehovah, 
their God, and gracious deliverer. It 
was, indeed, abfolutely impoffible that 
they fliould thui conceive of it, w^hile 
they retained any fparks or glimmerings 
of reafon. They therefore, in all pro- 
bability, " only intended it as a medium^ 
" thro' which to prefent their fupreme 
" veneration and refped: to the ultimate 
" objecft of it, the God of Ifrael: Upon 
" which account the day, when this idol 
" was iirft exhibited, is exprefsly fliled 
" afeafl to the Lord!' But notwithfland- Numbers 
ing this, it is evidently defcribed as an^^^"'^* 
adt of idolatry, by the Pfalmift in thefe 
words: T^hey made a calf in Horeb, ^WpCaJm di. 
ivorfnpped the molten image j thus they '9» 20. 
changed their glory into the fimilitude of 
(tn OK that eateth grafs. And it muft be 
B b 4 entirely 

376 Of Idolatry-. 

Serm. entirely needlefs to attempt to prove, J\fter 
XV. what has been now faid, that the cafe 

^^"^ is the fame with refped: to the worfhip-r 
pingy^//^ Gods^ or mere imagiftary MeJi" 
atorsj by images ; becaufe it is undeniable, 
in all fuch inftances, that the ohjeB, an4 
the manner^ of wor0iip are both ido^ 

It is farther prohibited, by the fecond 
«.ommandment, to pay religious honours 
to images, as having the fupreme, or any 
inferior^ "DWimiy prefent with them in an 
extraordinary way, or peculiarly refiding 
in them. For this is what human reafon 
can never diBate^ thro' its almofl abfo- 
lute ignorance of the order and aeconomy 
of invifible worlds 3 it is what revelation 
has never taught^ with refpe(fl to any 
images that can poffibly be framed ; nay^ 
It is what it diredly difcourageSy by pro- 
hibiting image-worJJjip in univerjal terms, 
without a fingle exception aclually madcj 
or any /;;/^^/«j^/^ exception. The Deifies 
therefore, fuppofed to be here refiding^ can 
no more have a proper fuhjiantial exift- 
ence, and niuft therefore as neceflarily 
be mere idols^ as any of the moft and irra- 

Of Idolatry* 377 

fmial Deities, that were ever adored by Serm. 
the Gentile world. Befides, St. Pauh rea- XV. 
foning, addreffed to the Athenians^ with ^•^'V^ 
refpedt to the Hving God who made the 

world and all things therein, thaty^^- 

V2g he is Lord of heaven and earth, he 
dwelleth not in temples>W^ with hands AasxvUi 

muft be to the full as conclujive a ^^* 
proof, if there be any evidence or de- 
monftration at all in it, ** that he dwell- 
•' eth not in images made with h^nds." 

It feems likewife, in the fifth 
place, to be forbidden by the text, to 
pay to images any marks of external re- 
%erence and honour. For in thefe words, 
thoujioall not bow down to them, nor ferve 
them, the proftration is, in the moft na- 
tural and eafy conflrudtion we can form 
of them, feparated from internal homage 
and offices of religion, as a difiindl article 
by itfelf. And the ground of this part 
of the prohibition was very probably this, 
to prevent our having the moll dijlant 
participation in a crime, which has ever 
been the bane of morality, and of all true 


3^78 Of Idolatry. 

Serm. Lasi*lv, the moft exceflive and crl^ 
XV. iprimal degree pf the Uolatry condemncci 

^^'^^'^''^ in the text is, when the worfliip offered 
is intended to terminate in the images 
themfelves. And it is to be feared, that 
this, h<5wever ftrange and unaccountable, 
is too often the cafe in the lower clafs 
of mankind, who grovel in their appre- 
hen (ions, have but Uttle ftrength or cofn- 
pafs of thought, and are hardly capable 
of extending their view, beyond the 'u/- 
fible objedi which engages their veneration, 
I (hall only add, that the fcriptures feem 
to fuppofe that mankind may be thus aban- 
doned of reaJoi2, and of all right idea and 
Sentiment of Deity : For the Prophet Ifaiah 
has, in effedt, drawn the exad: charadler 
of this moft deprejfed and degenerate fet 
of idolaters, in the following paflages— » 

Ifa. :jdiv. Jle heweth him down cedars, and taketh the 

^^' '5' cyprcjs and the oak- he plant eth an ajb 

then fhall it be for a man to burn 

be kindleth it, and baketh bread — \ — and 
the refidue thereof he maketh a God, even 
bis graven image : He falleth down unto 
it^ and wonjhippeth it^ and praycth unto 


Of Idolatry, 379 

^/, and faith ^ deliver me, for Thou <^r/ Seriv^, 
my Gop. XV. 

There ftlll remains another very im- """'^''^^ 
portant point to be diftindly confidered 

and explained and that is, that part 

of the reafon annexed to this command- 
ment (to deter the fews from imitating 
the cuftoms of the neighbouring idolaters,) 
which afferts the LoRd to be a jealous 
Gody vijiting the iniquity of the fathers 
upon the children unto the third^ and fourth 

generation. r-For how, it may be afked, 

can fuch a rigorous proceeding a? this be 
reconciled with the priuciples of eternal and 
moft perfedt wifdom, which are the bafis 
and fupport of God's moral government; or 
with thofe facred and irreverfible rules of 
equity^ by which it mufl be fuppofed to 
be, at all times, condu(5led ? How can it 
be reconciled to the dodtrine fo ftrongly 
inculcated by the Prophet Ezekiel: Who 
when the Jews, in his time, reprefented 
the judge of all the earth as arbitrary 
and cruel, in pqnifliing them for their 
fathers crimes, exprefsly declared, that 
the great and fovereign judge had an equal 
and impartial regard to all his creatures 


380 Of Idolatry, 

Serm. confidered merely as his creatures ; that all 
XV. Jouh vjtxt his^ as the foul of the father, fa 
^Q^ alfo the foul of the Son ; and that every 
?viii. 4. nian {hould be rewarded or puniihed, 
only as he had deferved reward or pu- 
nifhment, by his own perfonal behaviour ? 
And God himfelf is defcribed as appeal- 
ing to the fober judgment of his accufers, 
and their uncorrupted fenf of morality, 
whether this flanding inviolable rule and 
order of his fqpreme dominion was not 
ftridtly and uncxceptionably jufl-, whe- 
ther it was not abfolutely the mofi wife 
and impartial, nay the only wife and impar- 
tial, method of proceeding, in the go- 
vernment of rational and free creatures. 
As the cafe now flated has been efteem- 
ed a confiderable difficulty, which i^ 
neceflary to be removed, in order to fet 
God's univerfal moral rule in a worthy 
and venerable light ; I fhall endeavour to 
fuggeft fome brief hints towards a full 
and fatisfadtory folution of it. 

And, first, I apprehend that it will 
be but of little weight in clearing this 
objection to aiTert, what is indeed undeni- 
ably true, that by vifiting the iniquities of 


Of Idolatry, 381 

the fathers upon the children is meant, IdSerm. 
the text, only " a temporary and national XV; 
*' punifliment;" becaufe the paflage, in the 
Prophecy of Ezekiel^ relates to temporary 
and national punifhments likewife. For 
when the Jews made ufe of this proverb 
concerning the land of Ifraely that the 
fathers had eaten fowre grapes^ and the Ezekiel 
childrens teeth were fet on edge^ it is evi- ^^"'* ^' 
dent almoft to a demonftration, that they 
muft have intended this, and this only-y that 
they aBually fuffered as a community^ and 
not that they fhould hereafter fufFer as 
individuals^ for the offences and corrup- 
tions of their forefathers. So that the 
punifhment referred to in both paflages 
being, as to kind, exadlly one and the 
fame, this rather encreafes, than at all 
diminiflies, what appearance there is of 
a contradiSlion. 

Secondly, of as little force, with 
refpedt to the argument as it now ftands 
to be confidered, is another obfervation, 
viz. that the vifiting the iniquities of the 
fathers upon the children is, in this law 
of the decalogue, " appropriated to the 
*/ crime of idolatry y For tho' there 


382 Of Idolatry. 

SerM. might be folid reafons ioi guarding againft 
XV. an offence, that defeated thfe grand defigri 

'^^^^^^^^ of the Jewijh conflitiition, by the threat- 
ning of fome moft fevere and remarkable 
penalty ; yet, if the penalty be unjuji in 
itfelf, it muft be fo in all inftances^ 
and with refped: to all enormities with- 
out exception^ however heinous in their 
nature, or fatal in their cdnfeqdences, 
Andj befldes, Ezekiel has exprefsly men- 
tioned the fon of an idolater, as one that 
fiall not bear his father's iniquities. We 
may add to all this, that our blefled Sa- 
viour has afTerted the fame thing in fub- 
ftance (as that vvhich is denounced in th6 
text) with refpeft to other flagrant vices^; 
particularly perfecution, and murder : Be- 

M&t.xxiiu bold y fays he, I fend unto you prophets, a?id 

34.35' wife men, and Scribes -, and fome of theni 
ye fhall kill and crucify ; aiid fome of 
them fhall ye fcourge in your fynagogues^ 
and perfecute them from city to city. That 
upon you fnay conte all the righteous blood 

fhed upon the earth -Verily I fay u7Jto 

you, all thefe things fiall come upon this 
generation % \. e. in other words, God will 
'mft your wicked anceji&rs, as well as 


Of Idolatry. 383 

your own, perfecutions and murders, Serm, 
on you their children and defcendents. XV. 

■ We muft therefore defend the wif- ^«-^VN> 

dom and equity of that particular kind 
of punifliment, which is threatned m 
the text, upon fome more extenfive prin- 
ciple, than the peculiar charadcr and 
guilt of Idolatry. 

I wotTLD obferve farther, thirdly, 
that neither the fecond commandment, 
nor Ezekiel in the chapter above referred 
to, fpake " of the natural evil confequences 
" of vice, but oi pojitive punifhments.'* 
That the command did not intend fuch 
confequences, provided as penalties in the 
ejlahlijhed frame of things, is evident, be- 
caufe vifititig th& iniquities of the fathers 
upon the childrerty in this con ft ruction of 
the phrafe, can with very litde colour of 
reafon be fixed as the certain puniflimenc 
of idolatry, which eonfidered in itfclf^ 
and, as it may pcjfibly be in the nature of 
things, abftradted from otker immoralities^ 
is not fe likely to bring temporal diftrefs 
and calamity upon nations or private per- 
fons, as luxury^ fraud, and many other 
crimes that might be caiily fpecified -, nor, 


384 Of Idoiatr). 

Serm. confeqiiently, are the milbhicvous efFedis 
XV. of it^ refultirig from the fettled courfe of 

^■^'"^''^^ nature, fo likely to be felt by pojlerity' 
And further, this interpretation can, in 
my opinion, by no means be made to 
fuit with the puniftiment's being reftrained 
to the third and fourth generation (fup- 
pofing, for the prefent, that expreffion to 
refer not to the commencement, but the 
end, of the punifliment) becaufe the na- 
tural confequences of crimes are not capa- 
ble, without a miracle, of being thus li- 
mited', but as fome of them may end 
before, fo others, without an extraordi- 
nary interpofition of provicieneCj will, and 
muft, lafl much longer : Befides that the 

expreffion itfelf- God^s 'vif ting for fin 

will be found, I believe, always to 

imply fomething beyond the ordinary and 
fxed courfe of nature and providence. 
And it is equally improbable, on the other 
hand^ that the prophet ever intended to 
declare, that children fliould not fufFer 
any evils as the natural effetli of their 
fathers wickednefsj becaufe fuch a pofition 
as this is confuted by univerfal and daily 

I E«- 

Of idolatry. %Z^ 

tEXPEct now that it will befaid, thatSERM. 
this way of explaining renders the fubjeft XV. 
hither more perplexed, and ftrengthens the ^■^'"'^^'^^ 

difficulty, inftead of reriioving it. For we 
tnay as well avcouM foi* childrens being 
liable to fome misforturles and calamities, 
on account of the irregularities of their 
forefathers, as for any natural evils which 
tnen have not deferved^ and brought upon 
themfelves. There are feveral moft wife 
iahd necefFary puhifliments, inflided on 
grofs offenders in human government, 
Vvhich, in the unavoidable connexion arid 
train of events, are very injurious to 
their dejcendents. And, indeed, fcarce any 
penalty Can be ordained iii cafes of mofi: 
tonfiderable moment -, fcarce any penalty, 
I fay, adapted to tht occafion, and fuf^ 
ficient to ferve the ends of govern- 
ment, but what may, fome Way or other^ 
affedl the criminal's pojierity. ThiSj there- 
fore, being a right included in the idea 
of government in ge?2eraly as ejjmtial to 
it, muft be weakly and abfurdly dbjc€led 
to the divine govern men t.-^^ — -But if God 
immediately interpofes to infli«fl evils upon 
any for the iniquities of their antejiorsi 
Vol. IV. G c evils 

386 Of Idolatry* 

Serm. evils which would not have happened in 
. XV. the natural courfe of things, and which 
ti^^VNiJ they have not righteoully incurred by 
any guilt of their own j this looks like 
punifhing the mnocent, and mull:, confe- 
quently, be unworthy an equitable and 
beneficent governour. As therefore the 
fuppofing the fecond commandment to 
mean a pofitive puniihment feems to ren- 
der the injuftice more flagrant j fo does 
it likewife the inconfftency between that, 
and the text quoted from Ezekiel: Since 
they both fpeak of national evils, and of 
evils confined to the prefent life. 

But tho' the nature of the punifhment, 
and ihQ fcene on which it is inflid:ed, be in 
both paflages the fame -, yet the fubjedls of 
it are entirely different. The fecond com- 
mandment only fpeaks of God's vifiting 
the iniquities of the fathers on fuch chil- 
dren as inherit their vices, and imitate 
their bad examples -, the third and fourth 
generation of them that hate me^ i. e. con- 
tinue to manifeft their contempt and 
hatred of me by perfifling in their ido- 
latries. And this is likewife agreeable to 
the general tenor of the Old Teftament, 


Of Idolatry. 387 

and to every inftance of childrens fuffer-SERM. 
ing from the immediate hand of God XV. 
(thefe being always ivicked children) for ^'^^^'^"^ 
the vices of their progenitors. But the 
prophet Ezekiel fpeaks, on the contrary^ 
oi fuch of the offspring of degenerate and 
corrupted parents, as were themfelvcs good 
and virtuous. So thar^ by this plain fenti- 
ment, all fhadow of a contradi5iion be- 
tween the two facred writers is abfolutcly 

removed : And all foundation likewife 

for complaining of unequal dijiribution^ 
in the fupreme judge of mankind. " For 
" as the perfons fuppofed to fu^er are 
" fuch as might be rigbteoujly punifhed, 
** by a pofitive inflidion of the felf-fame 
" evilSj without any regard to or confi- 
*' deration Of their ancejivrsy it necefla- 
" rily follows, that their punifhment mufl 
** be abfolutely juft in itfelf-, and there- 
" fore no particular determination of their 
" fupreme governour wben^ or how^ it 
" fhall be infiided in this life (which is 
^' not the appointed fcenc of adequate 
" retribution) can make any alteration 
*' in the equity of the cafe upon the ivhole. 
** If the punifliment be in its own nature 
C c 2 " righteous, 

388 ^ Of Idolatry. 

Serm. " righteous, it may be inflidted in any 
XV. " wa)\ and at any time^ that will beft 

^^^"^^""^ " fubferve the ultimate end of divine 
" government." 

But it may flill be objeded, that if 
this be the import of the threatning 
annexed to the fecond commandment, it 
amounts to very little 5 becaufe the wicked 
children of wicked parents would be pu- 
ni(hed, by the univerfal governour and 
difpofer of events, for their own offences. 
To which I anfwer, that this is far from 
being certainy if we confine our reafon- 
ing, as the fenfe of the text obliges us 
to do, to the prefenf probationary ftate; 
ftnd that there are circumftances fuppof- 
able, " in which mankind might not 
" have been punifhed here^ if they had 
*' not been the depraved offspring of de- 
" generate ancejlors^ 

Let us imagine, for inftance, a fociety 
to be corrupt and vicious: God may 
cxercife patience towards them, as he does 
towards private perfons (to fee whether 
they will be reclaimed by ge?2tle methods) 
before he proceeds to execute vengeance, 
and teflify his fevere difpleafure againft 


Of Idolatry. 389 

their iniquities. This, indeed, is a wi)r-SERM. 
thy idea of the wifdom and clemency of ^^• 
his government, to try if the ruin and 
mifery of a whole people may not be pre- 
vented by their reformation. As the fate 
of a nation is a very great and important 
event, and its dcfiruBion what that moft 
benevolent and compaflionate being, who 
defires the happinefs of all his creatures, 
cannot delight in (but muft rather be 
avcrfe to, unlefs urged by indifpenfabk rea- 
fons of government) he may think it becom- . 
jng his infinite wifdom not to puniHi 
the firfl offenders ; to leave room for the 
fucceeding generation to relinquifli their 
fathers vices. But if they go on in the 
fame track of impiety ^ and a reformation 
is not fo probable^ as when the offenders 
retained the principles and fentiments of 
their better education, then it may be 
2i fit time to piiniJJj; to prevent the con- 
tagion from fpreading y^r//;^r, and from 
being tranfmitted down to poflerity. In 
thefe cafes (which mufl be at leafl al- 
lowed as poflible) if the generation of 
men, whofuffer under the fevere vifitations 
of providence, had been th^ fir/l oflcnd- 
C c 3 ers, 

390 Of Idolatry, 

Serm. ers, they might have been /pared for the 
XV. fame reafons, that, it is fuppofed, their 
* fathers were. But, now, God having 
fufficiently exercifed his patience towards 
them as a foaiety^ it may be expedient 
that he fhould manifefh his difpleafurc 
againft their public crimes, to vindicate 
and fupport his royal authority, and de- 
monflrate vifibly that he is the governour 
among the nations-^ which can only be 
rewarded or punidied as fuch in the pre- 
fint world. ** And thus the true reajhn 
" why they are punip^ed vfWX not be, ab- 
*' folutely and ftridly fpeaking, becaufe 
" they are jinners ; but becaufe they are 
" the njicious defcendents of impious and 
" 'wicked ancejlors : " Nor is there any 
thing, in this method of proceedings in- 
confiflent with maxims o^jujlice-y becaufej 
as was obferved before^ *' they have me- 
*^ rifcd the ivhole, of what they are ap- 
" pointed to fuffer, by their own perfar- 
^^~ ml crirpes." 



On the Mediation of Chrift. 

I Tim. ii. 5. 

— .^d one mediator between God 
and 7nen^ the 77tan Chriji J ejus, 

INTEND, in this difcourfe, Serm. 
to explain the mediatorial cha- XVI, 
rader and office of Chrift ; *^^"V^- 
which gives fuch fcope and 
enlargement to our ideas of the oeconomy and 
order of God's moral goverment, as unaffill- 
ed nature could not attain to. The feve- 
ral branches of this mediatory conftitution 
are, indeed, the principal points, by which 
the gofpel is dijiingiiijloed from mere na- 
tural religion j the primitive and invariable 
C c 4 religion 

392 On the Mediation of Chrtfi, 

Serm. reHglon of all mankind. And yet it wiH 
XVI. be obviops to every cool and confiderate 
inquirer, that though thefe are, as it 
were, the peculiar complexion and great 
charaBeriJiic of the Chriflian dodtrine, 
they were not iritended to forrr^ a fchenie 
entirely new j but are all clofely conneBed^ 
and interwoven^ with the eiTential branches 
of the religion of nature^ which they 
were originally defigned to explain and 

Thus, for example, that God governs 
the world with perfect wifdom and rec- 
titude, is the clear and undepraved fenfe 
of nature \ " which mufl be content 
" with this general knowledge, and can- 
" not pretend to fix, precifely, in what 
*' particular maimer this government is 
*^ conduced."— — Here then the gofpel 
comes in properly to the aid of reafon ; 
and informs us that it is. adminlftred by 
yefus Chrijl^ inyefted with the authority 
of God. The governpient is undeniably 
o«^ and ih^fame^ whether exercifed ijitw^e^ 
diately, or by a fubflituted power: So 
that in the general truth, the voice of 
reafon and Qhrifiianity both concur. Ar,«;i 


On the Mediation of Chrift, 393 

though reafon could never have difcoveredy Serm. 
by its own ftrength and penetration, that XVI. 
the adminiflration of this government ^-/^"^ 
was committed to a delegate^ fufficiently 
authorifed, and compleatly qualified, for 
the execution of fo vajl a defign j yet it 
is equally certain, that it can produce no 
decffive objed;ion againft this notion of a 
mediatorial King and Lord of all ; unlefs 
it be able clearly to demonftrate, " that 
^* the fupreme and original ruler of the 
^' world is under an immutable obligation 
" to govern always by himfelf alone ; 
*^ and that great and wife purpofes may 
^* not be ferved, by appointing a fubordi- 
*• nate power." But to aflert this in 
cafes, where we have no competent ideas, 
and fcarce a^iy comprehenfion at all of 
the fubje<fl: ; " and in a particular cafe, 
*^ in which we muft be abfolutely u?i^ 
" qualijied tp judge with certainty, un- 
** lefs we have, actually before us, 
*' all the pojfible reafons that may render 
** a particular oeconomy, expedient and 
** ff^ in the infinite government of the 
*' Alniighty;" is a drain of arrogance 


f 394 ^^ '^^^ Mediation of Chrijt, 

Serm. and prefumption^ as extravagantly ahjurd^ 
XVI. as it is impious. 

So, again, that God is in his nature 
abfolutely good^ and ftrongly difpofed to 
fhew mercy y is one of the jirfl principles 
that unpevoerted reafon teaches. But, then, 
though reafon, unlefs it be terrified and quite 
enflaved by fuperflition, mufl: look upon 
this as an ejfential perfe6tion of the Deity, 
and as the moft illuftrious and amiable 
part of his moral charader ; it muft alfo 
fuppofe, that the exertions and difplays of 
his mercy ^ as well as thofe of his -power ^ 
are, in all cafes, direded and proportioned 
by wifdom. " And what is ih.Q Jit t eft and 
" propereft way, either of difpenfing his 
^' mercy upon the whole ^ or with refpedt 
** to any particular fyflem of creatures, 
*' requires faculties of much larger extent, 
*' than thofe that are allotted to the hu- 
*' man mind, to adjufl and fettle." Iri 
the general principle, that God is merciful^ 
natural religion and revelation entirely cor- 
refpond : But with refped: to the [iated 
way oi diftributing \\\^fawurs^ fo as mofl 
effectually to fubferve the ultimate end 
of his moral government, an extraordi- 

On the Mediation of Chriji, 395 

pary revelation, alone, is capable of yield- Serm, 

ing us clear and full fatisjaBion. XVI. 

** Here therefore (as it was not unreafon- ^-^^*^^^ 
** able to fuppofe it might) the gofpel has 
** actually opened to us a new conftitution^ 
*' in the dodrine of C/6r//? the Mediator T 

The general notion of a Mediator is 
what thofe, who, inftead of modeftly 
exercifing and improving, make an idol 
of human reafon, are apt upon the firfl: 
propofal of it, and without Imowing or 
inquiring what it really means, to traduce 
and vilify. And indeed the reafons of it 
have been fo grofsly mijreprefented, as 
has given too much occafion, to fuper- 
ficial thinkers, to load it with reproach 
and cenfure. For God, confidered in 
himfelf, has been defcribed as an objed: 
of horror, and abfolutely i7iacccj]ible by 
his frail offending creatures. — : — An iinna- 
tural imputation, and mofh ahfurdly blaf- 

fhernous ! *' For where can accefs be 

*' found, if not to infinite mercy V To 
whom can the miferable, to whom can 
penitent finners, fo freely apply for relief 
and pardon, as to the ofily being in the 
^niverfe, whofe goodnefs is unlimited an4 


396 On the Mediation of Chriji, 

Serm. flridly immutable f Can communicated mzV' 
XVI. cy be more generous, condefcending, and 
companionate, than origi7jal and eternal 
mercy ? Or if the fupreme being be, in 
particular cafes, averfe to all commifera- 
tion 5 dare any inferior being prefume to 
intercede as a Mediator ? To diBate mer- 
cy to him that is all-perfed:, to attempt 
to make him more compilable^ to footh 
and mollify him into greater benignity and 
indulgence^ If God be, in himfelf, an 
unchangeable and unerring pattern of 
every thing that is right and fit ; would 
not fuch a Mediator a6l an indecent^ nay^ 
an immoral^ part ? Would he not behave 
in a manner unbecoming an intelligent 
being, ** if he {houldy?^^ for mercy, any 
*^ farther than God is by nature merci- 
" ful ?" On the contrary, if any circum- 
ftances could be fuppofed, in which the 
fupreme model of every thing truly wor- 
thy and noble might be imagined to be, 
ejjeiitially coniidered, unpropltious and in- 
acceilible; is it not undeniably certain, 
" that the Mediator alfo ought to be in- 
" acceiTible ? " Or can the Deity be degraded 
by the exercife of compaffion, in the very 


On the Mediation of Chrijl, 397 

fame cafe, in which the Mediator is ^x-Serm. 
alted and dignified by pleading for compaf- XVI. 
fion ? And, to add no more, muft not 
our humble fupplications, even when they 
are offered through a Mediatory be ultimate^ 
ly prefented to the divine mercy f If fo, it 
then necelfarily follows, that the true 
ground, on which the mediatorial fcheme 
was eftablifhed, could not be, " that God 
*' was in himfelf either too terrible y or 
" too refentful^ or too inexorable^ to be 
** direBly addreffed and invocated j " but 
this, and this ahney that fome great 
and beneficial purpofes might be ferved 
by it, with refpedt to the moral world 
confidered more at large, but efpecially 
with refpedl to mankind^ to whom the 
fcheme itfelf appears to have a peculiar 
reference. And the true Chriftian dodrine 
of a Mediator, the fubftance of v/hich 
is, '* that our blefled Saviour was ap- 
" pointed, by the fupreme authority of 
" heaven and earth, to reconcile apoftatc 
" and rebellious men to their offended 
** Maker and Sovereign, and to be the 
" difiributer of God's favour to mankind ;'* 
I fay, this primitive and unadulterated doc- 

39^ On the Mediation of Chriji. 

Serm. trine of the gofpel, concerning the One 
XVI. Mediator, carries not with it, in its ge- 
' neral notion, the leaft fhadow of a con- 

tradition to any of the truths that na- 
ture inculcates} and will appear, I am 
perfwaded, to unite and harmonize with 
all of them, in the diftinift explication of 
its feveral parts. 

Whether the mediatorial cha- 
radler of Chrift may be properly faid 
to have commenced till after his rejur- 
redlion^ when he had all power com- 
mitted to him, and was conftituted the One 
Lord, through whom are all things j I (hall 
not at prefent minutely enquire. Thus 
much however may, I think, be fafely 
affirmed, that there are feveral probabili- 
ties to incline us to believe, that this is 
the fcheme laid down in the New 
Teftament; and more particularly, that 
the title of Mediator is what Chrift ne- 
ver exprefsly affumed to himfelf, during 
the time of his own publick miniftry 
upon earth, nor was it ever afcribed to 
him till after his exaltation to regal dig- 
nity and power. But if we take his medi- 
atorial office ia the common conftrutSion 


On the Mediation of Chriji. 399 

of it, as beginning with his prophetic Serm. 
miflion, and ij2cludi?ig the fubftance of XVI. 
what he either did or fiiffered^ as the ^^-^^^^^^ 
faithful mcflenger and fervant of the 
mofl High ; it will ftill approve itfelf, in 
every branch, to the candid and unpreju- 
diced reafon of mankind. For that 

God fhould commijion a particular perfon, 
and furniQi him with authentic creden- 
tials^ to revive true religion, when it was 
buried, and almoft quite extinguifhed, un- 
der a heap of barbarous and hurtful fuper- 

flitions -and that he (hould eve?i ap- 

foint for this purpofe, and to promote 
the eternal faivation of mankind, a being 
of ih^Jir/i rank and dignity in the mo- 
ral creation— — neither of ihefe, I fay, 
can appear at all ftrange to us, when 
we confider that his mercies are infinite, 
and not to be meafured by the narrow ex- 
tent of human fenfations and affeiftlonsj 
and that the original worth and former 
tranfcendent glory of the inflrument^ im- 
ploycd in this generous defign, had a na- 
tural tendency to conciliate greater atteri- 
tion to, and a more fublime veneration 
of, his dodrine: Which laft is diredly 


40 o On the Mediation of Chrtji, 

Serm. pointed out to us (Matt. xxi. 37.) as the 
XVI. immediate view of providence, in this 
'''^^''^^ furprifing inftance of grace and condefceh- 
fion. And when the fame excellent pet- 
fon, for oppojing the prejudices, fuperfti- 
tions, and vices of the world, was, after 
a long courfe of preparatory indignities, 
tortured and put to death with the ut- 
moft ignominy, contrary to all the prirl- 
ciples of juftice and gratitude ; that his 
refohition and undaunted integrity in fub- 
mitting to fuch undeferved cruelties, with- 
out fo much as once prevaricating in the 
facred caufe of truth, {hould be highly 
honoured and rewarded by the fupreme 

Governour and judge of mankind Js 

a fentiment perfectly agreeable to our net- 
tural apprehenjions of his wifdom, equity, 
and goodnefs. 

But the death of Chrift is feprefented 

In the gofpel in a different light : Far 

we are not only told, that God was in, or 

2 Cor.v. through, Chrift reconciling the world unto 

*9" himfelf, but that we are reconciled to him^^ the death of his Son j that we have 

Eph.i. 7. redemption thro' his blood, the forgivenefi 

of fins J and that he hath put awa^ ftn 


On the Medtatmi of Christ. 401 

hy the Hicrifice of hlwfelf,^' — And it will Serm". 
without doubt be afked, what is the true XVL 
fenfe of this dodrine j and how it nKiy#jj(.ij j^^ 
be reconciled with the eternal principles "^' 
of reafon, and the notions, which we are 
led by nature to entertain of God ? 

To which I anfwer, that it is the un- 
deniable dodlrine of the New Teflament, 
that the death of Chrift was not intended 
*' to render tlie Titity propitious^ i. e. wil- 
" ling to be reconciled to his creatures 
*' upon ^/ and honour able terms/' be- 
caufe it was propofed by himfelf\ and the 
whole life and effcacy of it fprings from 
his appointing and declaring it to be an 
accepted facrifice : So that it muft of ne- 
ceffity fuppofe him *' to have been ante^ 
' cedently propitious." The truth of the 
cafe therefore is, that it was " an e\pe- 

* die7it originally proceeding from the 
' mercy of God, and not the argument^ 

* or motive^ inducing him to be fnerci- 
<■ /}//."_What then could it pojjibly be, 
' but the properejl and wijejl way, in 
' which he thought he could difpenfe 
' his mercy ?" — " But how the wifell?" 

Not furely with rcfped: to a?iy influence 
Vol. IV. D d upon 

40 2 O;; the Mediation o/" Christ. 

Skbm. upon himfelf, whofe mercy was complete 
XVI. and immutable -y it could therefore only be 

^''^^^"^^ on account of the moral iifes of it, or to 
promote the important ends of God's 
moral government. A nd the great pur^ 
fofes which are evidently ferved^ by the 
exprefs command of God to confider the 
death of Chrift under the notion and cha- 
racter of a facri-fice, are thofe which fol^ 

First, that it might be a Jlatiding 
memorial of God's being propitious^ and 
inclined to pardon the fins of men ; and 
an enforcement of that fundamental prin- 
ciple of ^//religion, that he is a rewarder 
of them that diligently feek him: " A 
" memorial co-inciding with the almoft 
*' univerfal Jentiment and praBice of the 
*' world (among whom Jacrifices were 
" efleemed as an eflential part of reli- 
** gion) and likely, upon that account, to 
" have a more certaiji and powerful in- 
^' iluence.''— Secondly, that it might be 
aftanding memorial^ likewife, of the evil 
and demerit of lin ; and, confequently, a 
perpetual incentive to humility and repen- 
ta?ice. — And, Thirdly, it feems to have 


On the Mediation of Cu^lSTi 403 

been wifely appointed with this view Hke- Serm, 
wife, viz. to fuperfede the ufe of all fu- XVI. 
ture facrijices-y which, extending even ^^'''"^''^ 
to human facrifices, had been the mofh 
depraved and iimiatural branch of Hea^ 
then fuperftition. And, therefore, that 
it might the better produce this effeSt^ 
which was worthy the care of infinite 
wifdom and goodnefs, we are exprefly in- 
formed, that Jefus Chrifl hath^ by one 
offering, perfected for ever them that are Hebr. :r, 
fanSlified. '''■* 

And, in the last place, " there is 
" formed, by this conjiitution^ a beauti- 
" ful a?2alogy in a very confiderable and 
" important point, between the fettled 
*' jnethods of God's 7iatural prGvidejice^ 
" and the extraord'mory operations of his 
*' grace 'y' which, perhaps, mayjuftly be 
efteemed as one of the principal reafons 
of it. — By the offence oi j^dam in eating, 
the forbidden fruit, the Chrijiian revela- 
tion informs usj death was introduced in- 
to the world, and defcended from him to 
all his pojlerity. Thus the Almighty ma- 
ker of the world was pleafed to eftablijh 
the order and conrje of nature ^ with re- 
D d 2 ipcdt 

404 On tie Mediation of CHRIST4 
Sf-Rm. fpcdl to mankind. And in this view of 
XVI. the cafe, death to all the race of Adam 
^^^^'XJ mufl be regarded as a jnisforttme only, 
brought upon them by the fault of an- 
other (which frequently happens in in- 
numerable other inftances) and not as a 
proper punijlyment of a crime committed 
b}' themfehes. But this eiyil^ fo far as it 
was entailed upon all men by a fix'd and 
unalterable law of nature^ and was not 
the confequence of their own ''johmtary 
tranfgreffion, is (It may not perhaps be 
io proper to lay, entirely remedied, as) 
counterbalanced, by reftoring mankind, 
throughjefus Chriil:, toa poffibility of ob- 
taining eternal life — An appointment, no 
more the reward of their own perfonai 
virtue and righteoufnefs, than the origi- 
nal and univerlal law of dt^th was, ac- 
cording to the fcripture account of it, a 
pii?7ijhment of theiv perfonai crimes. Here, 
then, there evidently appears a correjpon--' 
de/ice of defign, and an admirable /jar- 
mony In the divine condudt — The rchole 
moft wifely and equitably proportion 'd. — 
Here we fee the j?iercy of God providing 
a remedy equally exteniive v/ith the mii-^ 


On the Mediation of CHRIST. 405 

fortune^ that, by \\\^jufi determination^ fin Serm. 
had occafion'd. And as the firft confti- XVL 
tution, with refpedl to the power of deaths 
ought not to be efteemed as merely ca^ 
pricious and arbitrary ^ but was probably 
intended as an awful tejlimony of God's 
difpleafure againft fin j and as, with a 
view to this end_, human nature was io 
framed^ that the propagation of the Jpe- 
cies fliould alfo be the propagation oimor-' 
tality, after it had 07tce taken place : So 
the introduction of life by the death of 
Chrift, confidered as an ilhijlrious in- 
ftance of goodnefs and compajjion, of in- 
jlexible integrity and dutiful fubmijjion to 
the Supreme Being, is a bright and encou- 
raging demonjlration of God's delight in 
eminent virtue, and of the extraordinary 
honours which he is difpofed to confer 
upon it ; and, confequently, a ftrong in- 
centive to the fuhlitnefi ads of piety and 
beneficence. " So that the fame general 
** reafon runs thi'ough both the parts ; and 
" the whole is admirably adapted io the 

" ends of moral government." 


4o6 On the Mediation of Christ. 

Serm. What I have now oiFer'd, I take to be 

XVI. the proper explanation of the following 

^■•^"^'^^ pafTages, in St. Paul's epiftle to the Ro- 

mam» — That //', through the offence of one, 

many be dead ; much more the grace of 

Gody and the gift by grace (which is by 

one man fefus Chrif) hath abounded unto 

many — That ai by the offence of one^ 

judgment came upon all men to condem^ 

natiot^ J evenfo by the right eoufnefs of one^ 

the free gift came upon all men unto jufii^ 

fication of life. — l^hat as fin hath reigned 

unto death, even fo might grace reign 

through righteoufnefs unto eternal life, by 

Rom. V. Jefus Chrift our Lord. And if the poffi- 

21 ■ ' ^//zV^' of obtaining eternal life by <j//, and 

the aBiial attainment of it by the faith-. 

fid fervants of God, be the appointed 

conjequence of Chrift' s offering himfelf up 

to death — every one muft eafily fee, that 

his death might be much more properly 

defcribed as a facrifice, than any offerings 

of brute creatures, which had no fuch 

efficacy ', and the phrafes (though after all in 

a great meafure figurative) of our being: 

redeemed by his blood, and reconciled fo 


On the Mediation of Christ. , 407 

God fy the death of his fin (with others Serm, 
of a like import) muft appear to have a XVI. 
clear and very emphatical meaning. ' '" 

But to difmifs this topic, on which I 

have not time to enlarge The gofpel 

has farther declared to us, that becaufe 
our blelTed Saviour humbled himfelf, and 
[in purfuance of the command of the fii- 
preme God and Father of all] became obe- 
dient unto death, even the death of the 
■ crofs ', therefore God alfo hath highly ex- 
alted him, hath committed to him all au- 
thority in heave?! and in earth, and coU" 
Jlitutedhlm, under himfelf, the head over 
all things for the good of his church : So See Mat. 
that the government of God is now me- pSnp. ^' 
diatorially adminiftered, and his goodnefs^'9- , 
mediatorially difpenfed. And in the con- 
clufion of the whole fcene, Chrift will 
ftill appear in his regal chara(5ter to judge 
the world ; according to the general te- 
nor of that ivife conftitution, whereby the 
Father judgeth no man, but hath commit- 
ted all judgment unto the Son. — This is a johiiv.22, 
fhort fummary of the mediatorial fcheme, 
from its frjl commencement to its final 
I com^ 

On the Mediation g/" Christ. 

completion ; when the fates of all man- 
kind being judicially decided^ and confe- 
quently the ends of the mediation entirely 
accomplijlded^ the kingdom fliall be deli- 
*vered up to God^ even the Father j that 
the Son alfo himfclf may be fubjeSt unto 
him who put all thi7igs wider him — Ajid 

I Cor, XV. God may be all in all, 

H' "^ • gy jj^jg great and extenlive fcheme, the 
ivife/l and bejl beings in the univerfe are 
employed in offices becoming their dig- 
nity, and their exalted rank and cha* 
raster. God himfelf is reprefented as the 
original contriver and author of it, pur- 
fuing the dictates of his infallible wifdom^ 
and prompted by his boundlefs goodnefs. 
The chief being after him (whofe per- 
fedions of nature will admit of no com^ 
parifon) is the perfon appointed to be the 
mediator. The holy fpirit, as the next in 
rank and honour, adts as t\itfirji mini ft er 
of this mediatorial government ; having 
for his ajjiftants the angels j who all 
unite in the glorious defign of reducing 
mankind to the primitive paths of virtue, 
truth, and happinefs^ and in flrengthning, 
railing, and comforting the heirs of fal- 
z vat ion' 

On the Mediation of Christ. 409 

'Nation. So that, by this means, there Se rm. 
is formed as it were ^fcale of benevolence ^^i- 
from the iirfl fource and fountain of ^v^*^- 
goodnefs, through the various interme- 
diate orders of fuperior fpirits, quite down 
to mankind ; who are taught, and ftrong- 
ly incited^ by thefe examples, to pradlice 
condefcenfion, dilinterefted kindnefs, and 
tender fympathy one towards another, and 
lenity and mercy even to inferior animals : 
That one a(5luating vigorous fpirit of good- 
nefs and compaflion may be diffufed 
throughout the whole reafonable creation 
of God. — Nor is there any thing, in the 
fcheme of mediation in general, but what 
is plainly ajialogous to the eflablifhed fy- 
flem both of nature and providence. The 
world, according to the fir ft plan fixed 
by its Almighty Sovereign, is in a great 
meafure, and ever will be, 7ncdiatorially 
governed ; and parents, guardians, civil 
riders, friends, men in common to men^ • 
in the neceffary interchanging offices of 
human life, are, in moft inftances, the 
intermediate inj'truments of that good, 
which originally fprings from the Di- 
vine bounty. The fcheme of nature. 
Vol. IV. Ee there- 

4IO On the Mediation of Christ. 

Serm. therefore, being apparently a fcheme of 

XVI. mediation^ the idea of a mediator can- 

^^^^^ not be in itfelf abfurd, unlefs the con- 

ftltution of nature be wrong — And, incon- 

fequence, unlefs dired: Atheifm muft take 

the place of Chrijiianity. 

I beg leave to conclude with giving a fhort 
account of what is, in my opinion, the true 
gofpel ofChrift j of which the doctrine of 
his mediation is an elTential and moft im- 
portant part. And the general fubftance 
of this divine inftitution is — natural 
religion and virtue revived^ when 
the knowledge of them was in a manner 
erafed from the minds of men, by vice 
and wild enthufiafm j with the addition 
of two or three plain pojitive inftitutions, 
guarded in the llrongeft manner againil 
Juperftitious abufes, • and adapted to en- 
force the eternal laws of morality, and 
a moft exad: and fcrupulous regard to e- 
•"very branch of fubftantial and ufeful 
goodnefs. — But, more particularly, the 
principles recommended by it are thefe : 
" That there is 072e God, the Father and 
fupreme Lord of all, who created 2iVidigO' 
verns all things by Jefus Chrift — That 


On the MccVtaUon 0/ Christ. 411 

mankind are accepted with this infinite SERM^ 
Being, upon whom their happinefs ab- XV 1. 
folutely depends, through the righteouf- ^^'^■ 
nefs of faith, co-inciding, in the final 
fcope of it, with the general law oi fin- 
ceriiy * ; which, at the fame time, that it 
condemns every inftance of wilful vice, 
is condefcending to the involuntary iiifir- 
mities of human nature. — That the fa- 
vour of God is extended to all mankind ; 
his forgiving mercy to all true penitents ; 
but difpenfed in fuch a way, that reafon 
could neither difcover, nor can juftly ar^ 
raign ; an expedient wifely pitched upon 
to encourage repentance by the hope of 
mercy, to infpire finful men, undeferving 
of the Divine favour, with conftant fenti- 
ments of humility, and to extirpate fu^ 
ferftition. — That the Father of mankind 
is ever ready to ajjift them, in the purfuit 
of moral redlitude and happinefs ; that he 
will hereafter judge the world in righ^ 
teoufnef (whom he has made necefTarily 
fubjedi to his government, and account^ 
able for their behaviour) by ^efui Chrift : 

* See this Matter particularly and fully explained in 
Serm. II. Vol. III. on Jujiijication^ 

2 And 

412 On the Mediatmi of Christ . 

Serm. And that when he allots to all impenitent 
^^^- offenders impartial retribution, in pro- 
portion to the various degrees of their 
guilt, he will munificently reward his 
faithful and obedient fervants (from the 
immutable pleafure he takes in virtue, and 
to render it jBnally triumphant and njidfo- 
rious over iniquity and vice) with immor- 
" tal felicity and honour." — A fcheme 
this, upon the whole that one would think 
every conjiderate^ every religious, every 
truly moral, man muft highly efteem and 
venerate : And all who heartily believe it, 
and allow it to have its natural and juft 
influence, will probably be happy in peace 
and fubhme joy of mind here, and, in- 
fallibly, in the everlafling favour of God 


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lar. The whole extradled from the moft authentic Hi- 
flories, and digefted in an exaft Alphabetical Order. Cal- 
culated not only for the Ufe of Schools, but for all Per- 
fons who are defirous of being acquainted with ancient 
and modern Hiftory. In two Volumes Twelves. 

VII. A Seleft Colledion of fingular and interefting 
Hiftories, with the Trials and Judicial Proceedings to 
which the extraordinary Fadls therein recorded gave 
Occafion. Containing, among others, the Hiftory and 
Trial, i . Of M. de Cinq-Mars^ and Monf de Thou, Son 
to the celebrated Hiftorian. 2. Of Urban Grandierf 
who was condemned and burnt as a Magician, to fatiate 
the Revenge of Cardinal Richlieu. 3. Of Don Carlos ^ 
Son to Thilip II. King of Spain, condemned to Death 
for his Rebellion ; wherein a jufl: Account is given of the 
Spanijh Inquifition. 4. Of the Czaroavitz Alexis, eldeft 
Son to Peter the Great, condemned to Death for Re- 
bellion, l^c. againft his Father. Tranflated from the 
French Original. 

VIII. The Odes, Epodes, and Carmen Seculare of 
Horace, in Latin znd Englijh, With Critical Notes, 
collefted from the beft Latin and French Commentators. 
Correftly printed from Editions and Manufcripts of beft 
Authority, and all Quotations in the Notes, whether in 
Profe or Verfe, tranflated by the Rev'd Mr. Francis. 
In two Volumes Oftavo.